Western countries called for accountability in Syria following the release of a joint report by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that confirmed the Assad regime is still using chemical weapons against civilians in Syria.
Samantha Power, the US permanent representative to the United Nations, called the use of chemicals “a barbaric tool, repugnant to the conscience of mankind,” and urged the UN to take “strong and swift action.”
Power said that the international community must act to hold accountable those who act in defiance of fundamental international norms, calling on the UN Security Council to ensure consequences for those who have used chemical weapons in Syria.
In a statement released on Wednesday on the joint UN-OPCW report, Power said that the Assad regime’s repeated use of chemical weapons is “a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2118, a violation of Syria’s obligations as a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and a violation of well-established international standards and norms against chemical weapons use.”
Power stressed that letting those violations go unpunished “sends the signal that impunity reigns and it gravely weakens the counter-proliferation regime from which all of us benefit.”
“This horrific and continuous use of chemical weapons by Syria represents the greatest challenge to the legitimacy of the CWC since it entered into force, and an affront to a century’s worth of efforts to create and enforce an international norm against the use of chemical weapons,” Power said.
Power added: “Importantly, an independent team of international experts has now confirmed a pattern of use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime that mirrors numerous other confirmed cases of chemical weapons use across Syria, and countless other allegations of such use, including as recently as several weeks ago.”
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also condemned the “unscrupulous and ruthless” use of chemical weapons against civilians, demanding consequences for those who use them.
Steinmeier said on Thursday: “The use of chemical weapons, particularly against the civilian population, and the deliberate breach of the Chemical Weapons Convention must not remain without consequences.”
The German Foreign Minister also called upon the UN Security Council to “draw the right conclusions and take the necessary steps…in view of the indisputable facts on the table.” He expressed hope that the UN Security Council will display the necessary unity and determination to put an end to these “terrible excesses.”
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Thursday called for holding accountable those responsible for using chemical weapons in Syria.
Johnson said that chemical weapons “inflict excruciating pain and suffering. The Assad regime’s indiscriminate and sustained use of them against their own people, including children, is horrific and must stop.”
The Syrian Coalition called for holding the Assad regime to account for using chemical weapons against civilians in Syria.
In a statement released earlier on Thursday, the Syrian Coalition repeated its call for referring the chemical weapons dossier in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to determine those who ordered and carried out these attacks so as to make sure they are not repeated.
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday submitted a third report to the UN Security Council on the findings of an investigation into nine incidents in which chemical weapons are suspected to have been used in Syria during 2014 and 2015.
Western diplomats said that the UN-OPCW joint investigation looked into nine cases of chemical attacks in seven areas across Syria during 2014. It was able to name the culprit in three incidents, finding the six other cases inconclusive. (Source: Syrian Coalition + Agencies)