The Hague, Netherlands—27 January 2023—The OPCW Investigation and Identification Team (IIT)’s third report concludes that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the Syrian Arab Air Forces were the perpetrators of the chemical weapons attack on 7 April 2018 in Douma, Syrian Arab Republic.
Based on the holistic assessment of the large volume and wide range of evidence gathered and analysed, and on the convergence of the outcomes of such corroborated multiple analyses, the IIT concluded that, on the evening of 7 April 2018, at least one helicopter of the Syrian “Tiger Forces” Elite Unit dropped two yellow cylinders containing toxic chlorine gas on two apartment buildings in a civilian-inhabited area in Douma, killing 43 named individuals and affecting dozens more.
“The use of chemical weapons in Douma – and anywhere – is unacceptable and a breach of international law,” said OPCW Director-General Ambassador Fernando Arias.
“The Chemical Weapons Convention was signed 30 years ago – it represents a legally binding commitment of 193 States Parties to ban chemical weapons completely. OPCW’s Technical Secretariat was given a mandate by the Conference of the States Parties in June 2018 to identify the perpetrators of chemical weapons use in Syria. This report delivers on that mandate.”
The IIT assessed physical evidence collected and provided by OPCW experts, States Parties, and other entities. This includes 70 environmental and biomedical samples, 66 witness statements, and other verified data, such as forensic analysis, satellite images, gas dispersion modelling, and trajectory simulations. The evidence was scrutinised by IIT investigators, analysts, and several external independent experts.
The IIT considered a range of possible scenarios and tested their validity against the evidence they gathered and analysed to reach their conclusion: that the Syrian Arab Air Forces are the perpetrators of this attack.
The conclusion of the report is reached on the basis of “reasonable grounds”, which is the standard of proof consistently adopted by international fact-finding bodies and commissions of inquiry. The IIT conducted its investigation between January 2021 and December 2022.
Director-General Arias added: “The world now knows the facts – it is up to the international community to take action, at the OPCW and beyond.”