The Assad regime forces used deadly nerve gas in at least four occasions in recent months, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said, describing a “clear pattern” of chemical weapons use that could amount to crimes against humanity.
In a report released on Monday, the watchdog group said that the new evidence supports the conclusion that regime forces have used nerve agents in the April 4 attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun and on three other occasions in December 2016 and March 2017.
“The government’s recent use of nerve agents is a deadly escalation – and part of a clear pattern,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.
“In the last six months, the government has used warplanes, helicopters, and ground forces to deliver chlorine and sarin in Damascus, Hama, Idlib, and Aleppo. That’s widespread and systematic use of chemical weapons.”
Human Rights Watch interviewed 60 people with first-hand knowledge of the chemical attacks and their immediate aftermath, and reviewed dozens of photos and videos of impact sites and victims that were posted online and provided directly by local residents.
Since January 2017, Human Rights Watch has also documented, for the first time since August 2013, the use by Assad or pro-Assad ground forces of improvised surface-fired rockets containing chlorine to attack rebel-held territory near Damascus.
“The Security Council has already declared that Syria’s past use of chemical weapons is a threat to international security,” Roth said. “As that use continues, it is shameful that Russia prevents the council from even demanding Syria cooperate with investigators.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)