The credibility of the UN Security Council is at stake as it meets to discuss possible sanctions against the Assad regime for the use of chemical weapons against civilians, head of the French mission to the United Nations said on Friday.
“If the Security Council is not able to unite on such a vital, literally, vital question of proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction against civilian population, then what?” French UN Ambassador Francois Delattre said.
“What is at stake here frankly is the credibility of the Security Council,” Delattre told reporters.
Delattre said that beyond existing “clear evidence” that chemical weapons have been used in Syria against civilians, there are “converging indications that such weapons continue to be used.”
Britain’s deputy UN ambassador, Peter Wilson, said after a closed-door Security Council meeting on Friday that a vote would come “as soon as possible.” He said earlier that diplomats aim to advance the measure “in the coming days.”
Wilson added that his country is working with France and the United States on a draft resolution in the UN Security Council calling for holding to account those involved in the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Speaking to reporters at the UN headquarters in New York, Wilson said that it is very important to press the UN Security Council to take action in this regard.
On August 7, 2015, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2235, establishing the investigation to “identify to the greatest extent feasible individuals, entities, groups, or governments who were perpetrators, organizers, sponsors or otherwise involved in the use of chemicals as weapons.”
The draft resolution seeks to blacklist 11 Assad regime military commanders and officials and 10 Assad regime and related entities involved in the development and production of chemical weapons. The draft resolution also calls for an asset freeze and travel ban on the individuals and entities across all UN member states. However, two diplomats told Reuters on Thursday it was likely that Russia would veto the text.
A joint inquiry by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) found that the Assad regime forces were responsible for three chlorine gas attacks in rebel-held areas in 2014 and 2015. It also found that ISIS militants had used mustard gas in Aleppo province.
In a report released on February 13, HRW confirmed that the Assad regime forces conducted coordinated chemical attacks in opposition-controlled parts of Aleppo during the final month of the battle for the city.
The human rights watchdog said it has documented Assad regime helicopters dropping chlorine in residential areas on at least eight occasions between November 17 and December 13, 2016.
The attacks killed at least nine civilians, including four children, and injured around 200, HRW added.
Ole Solvang, deputy emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, said that the way chemical attacks moved in step with the frontline showed they were an integral part of the offensive.
“This is a strong indication that these chlorine attacks were coordinated with the overall military strategy for retaking Aleppo, not the work of a few rogue elements. And it is a strong indication then that senior military officers, the commanders of this military offensive in Aleppo, knew that chlorine was being used, “Solvang added. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)