An Islamic State chemical weapons factory was “not in production” when it was struck and destroyed, a spokesperson for the US-led Coalition told Grasswire in a Tuesday, August 1 email.
The desert facility, around 40km from Deir ez-Zor city in eastern Syria, was struck and destroyed on July 31 along with 13 ISIS oil stills and an oil storage barrel.
At the time it was struck, the facility was being used to store commercial chemicals which, the spokesperson said, ISIS has been known to use to develop chemical weapons.
The spokesperson said that “the destruction of the chemicals was not harmful to civilians in the immediate area,” adding that there were no population centres or significant structures nearby.
“The chemical weapons factory was assessed to be not in production at the time it was struck.
The facility was used by ISIS to store non-weaponized/commercial chemicals, which ISIS has been known to use in the past to develop their rudimentary chemical weapons.
The destruction of the chemicals was not harmful to civilians in the immediate area. The strike occurred in the desert approximately 40km outside the city of Dayr Az Zawr and there were no significant structures or population centers in the vicinity.”
The Syrian state-run SANA news agency said overnight strikes hit “al-Kamsheh, al-Showeit, al-Doweir and al-Ashara” near Deir ez-Zor, killing up to 60 people. Airwars listed July 31 strikes on Al Kasham (or al-Kamsheh) and Al Ashara as possibly causing civilian casualties, but blame has been variously attributed to the Coalition, the government and Russia.
In April, the General Command of the Syrian Arab Army claimed that a similar Coalition strike in the village of Halta killed hundreds of people in Deir ez-Zor governorate, after a strike destroyed “a huge warehouse containing a large amount of toxic substances,” releasing “a white cloud that turned yellow.”
Spokesperson Colonel John Dorrian said coalition aircraft had carried out no air strikes in the area at the time and that “the Syrian claim is incorrect and likely intentional misinformation.”