OPCW building
© AFP/ANP/Koen van Weel
The Syrian government has slammed a new report by the OPCW which directly accuses it of using chemical weapons on civilians. The conclusions of the chemical weapons watchdog are "misleading" and "false and fabricated," it says.

In the report released on Wednesday, the OPCW claims that the Syrian Arab Air Force was behind a series of sarin and chlorine bomb attacks in Ltamenah in 2017, concluding that no other "plausible explanation" could be found.

Syria's Ministry for Foreign Affairs responded on Thursday, saying that the "so-called" OPCW investigative team had relied on questionable sources from the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front and the controversial White Helmets aid organization, which has been repeatedly linked to the jihadist group despite earning wide acclaim from Western media.

Syria "categorically denies" the use of toxic gasses at Ltamenah or in "any other Syrian city or village." The army has not used such weapons even in the most difficult battles, it said.

The report represents "another scandal" for the OPCW, following the furore surrounding the probe into the use of chemical weapons in Douma in 2018, it added.

Two OPCW whistleblowers came forward last year claiming inconsistencies and suppression of evidence in that investigation, of which they were part. They were supported by an additional two informers, who have since called into question the OPCW's integrity and handling of the controversy.

One of the whistleblowers, Ian Henderson, said his evidence - which cast doubt on the narrative of Syrian government culpability in the Douma incident - had been dismissed without explanation. The OPCW's handling of the investigations and treatment of those who spoke out had brought the organization into "shameful disrepute," the most recent whistleblower said.

In the statement issued on Thursday, Syria claimed the latest report was "serving the goals" of specific countries and said the OPCW has been turned into "a tool for implementing the aggressive plans of the United States of America and its allies."

Fabricated allegations and false accusations "will not deter" Syria from pursuing terrorists and defending its sovereignty, it said.