The Assad regime is to blame for a chemical attack on the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed dozens of people last April, according to a report sent to the United Nations Security Council on Thursday.
“The Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April 2017,” the report from the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) said.
“Time and again, we see independent confirmation of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime,” Nikki Haley, the United States’ UN ambassador, said in a statement.
“The Security Council must send a clear message that the use of chemical weapons by anyone will not be tolerated, and must fully support the work of the impartial investigators.”
“If such use, in spite of the prohibition by the international community, is not stopped now, a lack of consequences will surely encourage others to follow,” said the report. “The continuing use of chemical weapons, including by non-State actors, is deeply disturbing,” it added.
The JIM has already found Assad regime forces were responsible for three chlorine gas attacks in 2014 and 2015.
The JIM was unanimously created by the 15-member U.N. Security Council in 2015 and renewed in 2016 for another year. Its mandate is due to expire in mid-November, and Russia on Tuesday vetoed a proposal to further extend its mandate.
In a report released on May 1, Human Rights Watch (HRW) presented new evidence supporting the conclusion that the Assad regime forces have used nerve agents on at least four occasions in the period between December 2016 and April 2017, including the April 4 sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun.
The watchdog group identified three different systems that regime forces are using to deliver chemical weapons: Assad regime warplanes have dropped bombs with nerve agents on at least four occasions since December 12; Assad regime helicopter-dropped chlorine-filled munitions have become more systematic; and regime or pro-regime ground forces have started using improvised ground-launched munitions filled with chlorine. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)