International authorities authenticated sarin nerve agent inside two containers that Syria’s regime said it found in rebel-held territory, Reuters reports.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said President Bashar Assad’s forces allegedly recovered the substance last August, the month of a sarin-gas strike that killed hundreds of people in a Damascus suburb, the news agency said in a Monday article. Assad’s government recently finished handing over 1,300 metric tons of warfare substances under an agreement forged after the Aug. 21 incident, but the regime has continued to blame opponents for every chemical strike in Syria’s 3-year-old civil war.
A June 14 analysis by the United Nations and the world’s chemical-weapons watchdog “confirmed that these [cylinders] contained sarin,” Ban told the U.N. Security Council in a letter later that month.
Assad’s government said the containers had been “abandoned” and “did not belong to it,” according to a separate statement by Ahmet Üzümcü, director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. His agency last October said the regime had reported finding the cylinders, but it is unclear how long they have been in international custody.
The U.N. chief pressed for the elimination of the Syrian government’s remaining chemical-warfare assets “at the very earliest opportunity, including the destruction of remaining production facilities and the resolution of any possible remaining technical discrepancies in the original [stockpile] declaration.”
“When neutralization is complete, Cape Ray will deliver the result effluent by-products to Finland and Germany for destruction ashore,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said.