Syrian authorities handed over a batch of documents with the evidence of a rebel use of banned chemical agent against civilians near Aleppo to the international chemical watchdog.
Samples from the shell containing mustard gas are to be delivered to The Hague.
The documents were handed over in Damascus to the mission of the Technical Secretariat of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The mission, comprising eight experts from the US, the UK, Australia, Slovakia and Slovenia has been working in Damascus at the request of the Syrian government since December 12.
“We have provided all the documents to the mission, they were vetted and accepted. The mission will come to Syria one more time to collect samples, which will be subsequently analyzed,” said Samer Abbas, spokesman for the Syrian National Authority monitoring the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement reported by Russia Today on Sunday.
The samples are expected to be delivered to The Hague, the site of the OPCW headquarters, by a charter flight in January next year. The samples will be stored in Syria until all financial difficulties linked to their transportation to Europe will be solved.
The mortar shell with the chemical was recovered near the village of Maarat Umm Hawsh in Aleppo province on November 16 by Russian experts, who were demining the area. Upon closer inspection, the unexploded crude homemade 240-mm round was found to contain dark liquid.
Russian chemical experts took samples and confirmed that the agent in question was mustard gas. The poisonous substance was widely used during the WWI-era and has been outlawed since 1923.
The shell is believed to have been used in a September 16 attack on the village, in which over 40 civilians were injured, and later treated in the Yusuf al-Azma military hospital in Damascus for symptoms of mustard gas poisoning.