An investigation commissioned by the global chemical weapons watchdog has found that two former employees leaked confidential information, it said on Thursday, a breach which fueled a Russian-backed theory that a deadly attack in Syria was staged.
More than 40 people were killed on April 7, 2018, in the town of Douma on the outskirts of Damascus that was then held by rebels but besieged by pro-regime forces.
The attack triggered missile strikes by the United States, Britain and France a week later against Syrian regime targets, the biggest Western military action against the Syrian regime during the nine-year-old war.
Douma has been the source of deep division among member countries of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), with Western powers and Russia locked in political wrangling.
The Bashar al-Assad's regime and its military backer Russia deny using chemical weapons and accuse insurgents of staging the attack to implicate Syrian regime forces.
The “deliberate and premeditated breaches of confidentiality ... are considered to be serious,” said an OPCW statement setting out the results of the investigation, which it said was carried out by “independent, professional investigators, from outside the organization”.
The OPCW did not name the two individuals.