President of the Syrian Coalition Anas Abdah on Tuesday sent letters to 26 countries and international organizations, including the United Nations, the European Union, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, explaining the repercussions of the chemical attack by the Assad regime against civilians in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rural Idlib on Tuesday.
Abdah stressed that the town was free of any armed presence at the time of the attack, adding that the crime is “reminiscent of the morning of 21 August 2013 when Assad gassed over a thousand civilians in besieged Ghouta, near Damascus, to death.”
“The Assad regime has continued to use Chlorine and other chemical weapons across Syrian soil in a flagrant breach of its obligations according the Chemical Weapons Convention to which it acceded following the Ghouta massacre in 2013.”
Abdah stressed that such attacks further constitute a violation of Security Council Resolutions 2118 (2013), 2209 (2015), 2235 (2015), as well as the ceasefire which took effect in December 29, 2016.
“This now established history of use of chemical weapons makes it clear that Assad has been emboldened by the unfortunate international inaction and absence of accountability,” Abdah added.
Abdah called for immediate action as the UN Security Council meets for an emergency session on the attack “to ensure this attack is investigated expeditiously and the perpetrators held to account.”
“Failure to do so would not only give Syrian civilians, yet again, the extremely frustrating message that their suffering will continue to be tolerated and Assad’s crimes will continue to go unpunished, but it would also undermine the whole UN-sponsored political process making the likelihood of reaching a political solution more remote than ever.”
“Only justice, freedom and a new free Syria, the one they have been demanding since 2011 will help them heal and regain faith in the international system and mechanisms,” Abdah added. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition Abdul Hakim Bashar called for the referral of perpetrators of the chemical weapons attack on the town of Khan Sheikoun to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
"The crime that took place in Khan Sheikoun on Tuesday should prompt the international community to change its way of dealing with the Assad regime," Bashar told a press conference in Istanbul on Tuesday. He called on the US administration in particular to adopt a strict stance towards the regime, adding that the weak position of the previous administration has encouraged the regime to continue with its crimes.
Bashar called upon the United Nations to put Assad and his officials on the list of war criminals, stressing the need for the adoption of a UN Security Council to hold accountable those who ordered and executed the attack in Khan Sheikoun. He also called for the referral of the incident along with all previous similar incidents to the International Criminal Court, emphasizing that the failure to take such measures will encourage the Assad regime to commit more crimes.
Bashar presented to reporters photographs showing the aftermath of the attack in Khan Sheikhoun and the children who died as a result of the chemical attack.
“There is no difference between a terrorist who blows himself up and a terrorist who orders the bombing of civilians,” Bashar underscored.
"The crimes of the Assad regime more than outweigh those committed by the ISIS extremist group and all groups the international community designated as terrorist.”
When asked about the consequences the attack may have on the political process, Bashar said: "We are fully aware that the Assad regime does not want a political solution. This crime is not solely a Syrian affair as it has put the international community in front of a real challenge. A political solution must lead to Assad's departure and his referral to the ICC.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Secretary-General of the Syrian Coalition Abdul Ilah Fahd held two separate meetings with US and British officials on Wednesday. The meetings condemned the chemical attack committed by the Assad regime against civilians in the town of Khan Sheikhan in rural Idlib on Tuesday.
Fahd met with Hugh Cleary, Head of Syria Internal Team at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and with Jill E. Hutchings, Political Officer in the Syrian Transition Assistance Team of the US State Department.
Fahad said the crime the Assad regime committed in Khan Sheikhoun must not be allowed to go unpunished, stressing the need for political transition in Syria. Fahad pointed that such appalling crimes continue to be committed in Syria as result of the failure of the international community to push for a genuine political solution to the conflict.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights said it has so far documented at least nine chemical weapons attacks by regime forces in 2017, including the attack in Khan Sheikhoun where at least 100 civilians were killed and 400 more injured.
Fahd called on the US administration and the British Government to step up support for the political process in order to force the Assad regime to implement international resolutions, most importantly the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council resolution 2254.
In the meetings, Fahd also called for increased support for the projects the Syrian interim government is implementing in the liberated areas to enable it to provide basic services to the population and to restore security and stability in these areas.
Fahd also told the US and British diplomats that the Turkish-backed Shield of the Euphrates Operation was at the heart of the fight against terrorism. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)