Turkish Health Ministry says initial findings point to sarin gas in Syrian attack

Turkish Health Ministry says initial findings point to sarin gas in Syrian attack

ANKARA
Turkish Health Ministry says initial findings point to sarin gas in Syrian attack

AFP photo

The initials findings collected from autopsies conducted on three Syrians who died after being brought to Turkey for treatment after a suspected chemical gas attack in Syria’s northern Idlib province suggests sarin gas was used in the attack, the Turkish Health Ministry said April 6. 

“Based on the test results, evidence was detected in patients which leads one to think they were exposed to a chemical substance (sarin),” the statement said. 

It said a total of 31 Syrian victims of the attack had been brought to Turkey, 30 of whom were being treated in the southern province of Hatay and another victim in the neighboring province of Adana. 

It said the three victims had died despite efforts to save them. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group put the toll so far at 86 killed.

“Pulmonary edema, a rise in the weight of and bleeding in the lungs were detected in the initial findings of the autopsy,” the statement said, adding that the symptoms were thought to point to chemical gas usage. 

Speaking a few hours before the Health Ministry’s statement, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said on April 6 that the autopsy results showed chemical weapons were used in the April 4 attack in Idlib’s Khan Sheikhoun.
“An autopsy was conducted in Adana on three bodies taken from Idlib. A representative for the World Heath Organization, representatives from the OPCW and forensic experts participated in the autopsy. As a result of the autopsy, it has been determined that a chemical weapon was used. The forensic report has clearly revealed this. The autopsy was completed with the efforts of both WHO and OPCW representatives. It has been determined that al-Assad used chemical weapons, and this was also spotted with the scientific examination,” Bozdağ told reporters in the Central Anatolian province of Kırıkkale on April 6.

The autopsies of three Syrians who died in Turkey after being brought to the country for treatment following the suspected chemical gas attack in Idlib were finalized in the early hours of April 6 in the southern province of Adana, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.  

World Health Organization (WHO) spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told AFP in Geneva following Bozdağ’s remarks that “a WHO person was there at the time of the autopsy but had no role in the autopsy or investigation,” adding that it was not part of the WHO’s mandate to participate in such autopsies.

Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag said on April 6 that the results from Turkish autopsies on the victims would be sent to the Dutch capital of The Hague for an additional examination, referring to the headquarters of the OPCW. 

Jasarevic also said no samples or swabs had been taken by WHO, according to AFP.