HAGUE: An international watchdog will investigate claims the Syrian regime used chemical weapons to attack the besieged Eastern Ghouta enclave, a diplomatic source said on Tuesday.
The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) launched the probe over repeated reports of regime chlorine gas attacks this February near the capital Damascus, said the source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
The watchdog group will task a fact-finding team to examine evidence of chlorine gas symptoms in Eastern Ghouta.
Eastern Ghouta, a Dama-scus suburb, has been under siege for the last five years and humanitarian access to the area, which is home to some 400,000 people, has been completely cut off.
In the past eight months, Assad regime forces have intensified their siege of Eastern Ghouta, making it nearly impossible for food or medicine to get into the district, and leaving thousands of patients in need of treatment. Since Feb. 19, escalating hostilities have resulted in 500 deaths and some 1,500 injuries in Eastern Ghouta, with 24 health facilities damaged by shelling and airst-rikes, according to UN officials.
Syria has been locked in a devastating conflict since early 2011 when the regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.
According to UN officials, to date hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict. (AA)