Experts from the UN watchdog tasked with destroying chemical weapons are probing reports that toxic weapons have been used 45 times in Syria since late last year, the body’s chief said Friday.
Ahmet Uzumcu, Director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said there was “a huge list of allegations” of the use of toxic arms reported to the OPCW’s operations hub.
The list includes the April 4 sarin attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun. “All these allegations are recorded by our experts, who follow this every day from our operations center,” Uzumcu said.
The Assad regime has been condemned for using chemical weapons against civilians, which was proven by the British and the French, who conducted tests on samples taken from the victims.
The OPCW is currently trying to ensure it is safe enough to deploy its fact-finding team to the town for further analysis, after Uzumcu said last week that “incontrovertible” test results from OPCW-designated labs on samples taken from victims showed sarin gas or a similar substance had been used.
Uzumcu pointed out that a OPCW team is ready to be deployed to Khan Sheikhoun area once a temporary ceasefire is established.
Meanwhile, a New York Times investigation has shown how the Assad regime and Russia have distorted the facts surrounding the April 4 attack on Khan Sheikhoun.
The New York Times on Wednesday published a video which went into detail about what the Assad regime and Russia claimed happened during the attack compared to what satellite photos and video of the area showed. The video refuted claims by the Assad regime and Russia about the time of the attack, the impact sites, and the weapons used.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, pushed the UN Security Council on Thursday to focus “all eyes and all pressure” on Russia to try and end the Syrian conflict and pressed for council action even if it faces a veto by Moscow.
“They are the ones who could stop this if they wanted to,” Haley said of Russia. “We need to put pressure on Russia.”
“I will continue to press the Security Council to act, to do something, regardless of if the Russians continue to veto it because it is our voice that needs to be heard,” Haley told a Security Council meeting on aid access in Syria.
“Russia continues to cover for the Syrian regime, Russia continues to allow them to keep humanitarian aid from the people that need it, Russia continues to cover for a leader who uses chemical weapons against his own people,” Haley said. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)