Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the UN Security Council to urgently impose sanctions on the Assad regime for chemical weapon attacks in Syria and refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.
“The Security Council should renew and expand the inquiry’s mandate to ensure continued investigations into the use of chemical weapons in Syria with a view to identifying all those responsible and deterring any further use,” HRW said in a report released on Tuesday.
The UN Security Council failed to agree Tuesday on whether Syria merited sanctions over the use of chemical weapons, with Russia questioning the evidence from an independent commission that found Assad regime forces were behind at least two such attacks.
A joint team from the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that was mandated to investigate chemical attacks in Syria found that the Assad regime was behind two chlorine attacks in the towns of Talmenes on April 21, 2014 and Sarmin on March 16, 2015. Regime helicopters dropped bombs containing chlorine on the two towns. Human Rights Watch investigations into both cases concluded that the evidence strongly suggests that regime forces used toxic chemicals dropped in barrel bombs.
The inquiry also found that ISIS used sulfur mustard gas in an attack on areas held by armed opposition groups in August 2015.
In a 2013 resolution approved after the Sarin chemical attack that was carried out by regime forces on the eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus killed hundreds of civilians, the Security Council agreed to impose measures under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter if chemical weapons were used in Syria.
“Russia and China don’t have a leg to stand on by continuing to obstruct the Security Council on Syria sanctions and an ICC referral,” said Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch. “The Security Council diminishes its importance if it doesn’t take strong action against demonstrated use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government.” (Source: Syrian Coalition + Agencies)