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Syrian government slams 'misleading' OPCW chemical arms watchdog report into 2017 attacks

The Syrian government on Thursday criticised as "misleading" a report by the global chemical weapons watchdog that for the first time blamed Damascus for toxic attacks in 2017.

"The report of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on the use of poisonous substances in the town of Latamneh in 2017 is misleading and contains falsified and fabricated conclusions aimed at falsifying truths and accusing the Syrian government," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The OPCW findings published Wednesday accused President Bashar al-Assad's air force of using the nerve gas sarin and chlorine three times in 2017 on that town in northwest Syria.

The Syrian government said it rejected the contents of the report.

Damascus "absolutely denies ever having used poisonous gases in the town of Latamneh or in any other Syrian city or village," the statement said.

Wednesday's report was the first from a new investigative team set up by the OPCW to identify the perpetrators of attacks in Syria's nine-year-old civil war.

It said two Syrian Arab Air Force Sukhoi SU-22 jet fighters dropped two bombs containing sarin on Latamneh on March 24 and 30, 2017.

A Syrian military helicopter dropped a cylinder containing chlorine on a hospital in the same town on March 25 that year, the report said.

Damascus insists it has handed over its weapons stockpiles under a 2013 agreement, prompted by a suspected sarin gas attack that killed 1,400 in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta.

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