France said on Tuesday the United Nations Security Council had to respond over the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons in Syria with a resolution that would punish those responsible for repeated attacks.
In a report published on Monday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that the Assad regime forces used chemical weapons in opposition-controlled parts of Aleppo during battles to retake the city late last year.
The findings add to mounting evidence of the use of banned chemical weapons in Syria and could strengthen calls by Britain, France and the United States for sanctions against Assad regime officials.
A French foreign ministry spokesman said in a daily briefing the findings of the HRW report were “extremely serious.”
“It is up to the Security Council to act. France … continues to discuss with its partners at the Security Council to adopt a resolution to punish those responsible for these attacks,” the spokesman said.
“The use of weapons of mass destruction constitute a war crime and a threat to peace. Impunity is not an option,” the spokesman added.
Assad regime helicopters dropped chlorine bombs “in residential areas in Aleppo on at least eight occasions between November 17 and Dec. 13, 2016,” HRW said.
Human Rights Watch said its report was based on interviews with witnesses, analysis of videos and photos and social media posts. “The attacks, some of which included multiple munitions, killed at least nine civilians, including four children, and injured around 200,” it said.
HRW went on to say that while there is no evidence that Russia, the only other party that conducted airstrikes on eastern Aleppo during this period, it was directly involved in the chemical attacks as Russian aircraft played a crucial role in the military offensive against opposition fighters in eastern Aleppo.
In December 2016, Britain and France pressed the UN Security Council to ban the sale and supply of helicopters to the Assad regime and to blacklist 11 Syrian military commanders and officials over chemical weapons attacks during the nearly six-year war.
The two countries presented a draft resolution to the UN Security aimed at imposing sanctions on officials and institutions linked to the Assad regime for the launch of several chemical attacks on civilians. The deadliest attack took place in eastern Ghouta near Damascus in August 2013, resulting in the death of over 1,200 civilians, mostly children and women. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)