The Assad regime forces were found to be responsible for a third toxic gas attack, according to a confidential report submitted to the UN Security Council on Friday.
The fourth report from the 13-month-long inquiry by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) blamed the Assad regime forces for a toxic gas attack in the village of Qmenas in Idlib province on March 16, 2015.
The third report by the inquiry in August blamed the Assad regime for two chlorine attacks – in the towns of Talmenes on April 21, 2014 and Sarmin on March 16, 2015 – and said Islamic State militants have used sulfur mustard gas.
The report submitted on Friday said that Syrian government forces have used helicopters to drop barrel bombs, which then released chlorine gas. It found those helicopter flights originated from two bases where the 253 and 255 squadrons, belonging to the 63rd helicopter brigade, were based.
The report added that the 618 squadron, with navy helicopters, was also located at one of the bases, adding that those “with effective control in the military units … must be held accountable.”
The Assad regime agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013 under a deal brokered by Moscow and Washington. The Security Council backed that deal with a resolution that said in the event of non-compliance, “including unauthorized transfer of chemical weapons, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone” in Syria, it would impose measures under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter.
President of the Syrian Coalition Anas Alabdah in early September sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and to former president of the UN Security Council Ramlan Bin Ibrahim concerning the third report of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
The letter called for “punitive measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, as required by Security Council resolutions 2118 (2013), 2209 (2015) and 2235 (2015) sanctioning the Syrian regime for its defiance of international law and its willful killing of innocent civilians.” (Source: Syrian Coalition + Agencies)