The Assad regime’s refusal of access to a newly-created chemical weapons investigation team formed to identify culprits behind attacks with banned munitions confirmed its involvement in the use of internationally prohibited weapons, a monitoring group said, adding that this makes it a “rogue regime and one that is above the law.”
In a report released on Monday, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said that the Assad regime’s refusal of access to a team of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is an irrefutable proof of its use of chemical weapons in attacks against civilians.
The monitoring group said that it has already proved the Assad regime’s involvement in the use of chemical weapons in the province of Latakia. It stressed that the Assad regime continues to show utter disregard to the international community, denouncing Russia’s support for the regime.
The Network warned that the failure to take action to punish the Assad regime would encourage it to carry out more attacks with the use of chemical weapons. It said that the regime will then deny it used these weapons citing lack of evidence as Russia will shield it at the UN Security Council.
The Network called on the states that threatened action should the regime use chemical weapons to carry out its threats, especially the United States, France, and Great Britain are.
OPCW head Fernando Arias on Wednesday told the UN Security Council that the Assad regime “refuses to recognize the decision and to deal with any of its subsequent implications and effects.”
Arias said Syria’s deputy foreign minister, Faysal Mekdad, had informed the OPCW in writing of the decision not to issue travel visas to members of the investigation team.
A joint United Nations-OPCW investigation team (JIM) concluded that Syrian forces used banned nerve agent sarin and chlorine barrel bombs in more than 20 occasions. The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons 217 times since December 2012.
The Syrian Coalition earlier said that all those responsible for these attacks must be brought to the International Criminal Court.
The Coalition stressed that the orders to use chemical weapons in Syria came from the highest echelons of the Assad regime. Russia repeatedly used the veto on the UN Security Council to prevent any resolution condemning Assad’s war crimes.
The new investigation team was formed after Russia vetoed a resolution to extend the mandate of the JIM in November 2017. OPCW member countries voted last year to create the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT), a decision that was opposed by the Assad regime and its ally Russia. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)