US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power claims that a new report from the OPCW fact-finding mission in Syria offers “proof” that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in the ongoing civil war.
The claims stem from the OPCW report claiming eye-witnesses saw barrel bombs being dropped from helicopters. The use of barrel bombs has been increasingly common in the civil war, and the bombs amount to little more than an oil drum with explosives in it.
In this case, Power claims that the combination of barrel bomb sightings and eyewitnesses who “smelled chlorine” in the same general vicinity amounted to proof that the bombs themselves contained chlorine.
This rests on a broad assumption, of course, and also raises questions about why Syria, at the time a nation with a huge, advanced chemical weapons arsenal, would be using makeshift chlorine gas bombs, the chemical weapons of the early 20th century, instead of their actual arsenal.
The OPCW says it believes chlorine gas may have been used as a weapon but never assigned blame to either the government or the rebels. Power is attempting to connect that to the barrel bombs, which have been exclusively used by the government, to assign that blame.