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Syria Inspectors Find Signs of 'Systematic' Toxic Strikes

A rescue worker carries a man following an alleged Syrian government airstrike in Aleppo last week. A global monitoring agency said Syrian fighters appear to have employed agents such chlorine in "systematic" attacks. A rescue worker carries a man following an alleged Syrian government airstrike in Aleppo last week. A global monitoring agency said Syrian fighters appear to have employed agents such chlorine in "systematic" attacks. (Zein al-Rifai/AFP/Getty Images)

International inspectors said Syrian combatants appear to have employed agents like chlorine in "systematic" strikes, Agence France-Presse reports.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said its findings in Syria suggest that "toxic chemicals, most likely pulmonary irritating agents such as chlorine, have been used in a systematic manner in a number of attacks," AFP said in a Wednesday article.

Syrian rebels have accused President Bashar Assad's government of staging the reported strikes from its aircraft, but Damascus says opposition forces have been responsible for any use of chemical arms in the conflict. The government has given other nations custody of all but 8 percent of its reported chemical stockpile, under a disarmament plan it accepted after an August 2013 nerve-gas strike prompted discussion of international military action.

Claims of chlorine-gas use in Syria "cannot be dismissed as unconnected, random, or of a nature attributable to purely political motives," the chemical-arms monitoring agency stated in an assessment. The document adds, though, that an attack on investigators last month prevented them from "presenting definitive conclusions."

Inspectors reportedly based their findings in part on "verbal medical reports" from physicians in Kfar Zeita, the site of several chlorine attacks reported in the 3-year-old conflict.

The Obama administration on Tuesday called for the chemical-arms watchdog to consider assertive steps in response to delays in the chemical-disarmament operation, the New York Times reported.

"Syria has deliberately frustrated the council’s efforts to complete destruction by June 30. The [OPCW Executive Council] will need to acknowledge that Syria has not met its obligations to remove these dangerous materials so that they can be destroyed," U.S. Ambassador Robert Mikulak said in a statement to the 41-nation governing body.

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