The Khan Sheikhoun chemical weapons massacre, in which nearly 100 civilians were killed, mostly children and women on April 4, 2017 was a major indicator of the Assad regime’s insistence on continuing to use this type of weapon in blatant defiance of international warnings.
In a press release issued on Thursday, the Syrian Coalition held the international community “responsible for the continued impunity for these crimes as it allows Russia to continue to disable the UN Security Council.” It stressed that “the repeated issuance of statements of condemnation and threats of punishment have proved futile. It is imperative, therefore, to stand up to Russia’s support for these atrocious crimes.”
The Coalition renewed calls for the activation of Article 21 of UN Security Council resolution 2118 which threatened to impose measures under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter in the event of non-compliance with the resolution, including the unauthorized transfer or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in Syria.
“The international community has an obligation to take serious action and exert real pressure to hold criminals accountable and put an end to these crimes as well as the mass forced displacement of civilians,” the Coalition said.
According to a report the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) issued on Wednesday, the Assad regime has carried out as many as 214 chemical weapons attacks since the start of the revolution, including more than 10 attacks that took place after the Khan Sheikhoun massacre.
The Coalition added: “Indeed, allowing the criminals who planned and carried out these massacres to escape punishment for these crimes and for the mass forced displacement of Syrians will remain an absolute disgrace to the international community. Impunity for these crimes risks opening the door for a world in which war crimes and genocide are committed with prohibited weapons without the perpetrators fearing the consequences of their actions.”
A joint investigation by the UN and the Organization of Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has confirmed the Assad regime’s responsibility for the Khan Sheikhoun massacre as well as for 27 other chemical weapons attacks. Russia responded by blocking the extension of the work of the joint panel using its veto power three times at the UN Security Council. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)