A new UN report suggests that the Assad regime and the "Islamic State" have been resorting to chemical warfare. Now, the US, France and Germany want to the perpetrators to take responsibility for the attacks.
"The usage of chemical weapons, which the Syrian authorities agreed to ban in 2013
under international pressure... is an abomination that highlights the damning role played by the Damascus regime in the worsening situation in Syria," French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in a statement.
"The Security Council must not shirk its responsibilities and France is already working with its partners" on the matter, he added.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also condemned the targeting of civilians with chemicals, demanding consequences for those who use them.
The US' ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, called the use of chemicals "a barbaric tool, repugnant to the conscience of mankind," and urged the UN to take "strong and swift action." US National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said, "it is now impossible to deny that the Syrian regime has repeatedly used industrial chlorine as a weapon against its own people."
Price also said his government had placed a "high priority" on targeting the "Islamic State's" (IS) chemical weapons capability." We continue to remove leaders from the battlefield with knowledge of these weapons and will target any related materials and attempts to manufacture such chemicals going forward."
Assad, IS responsible for chemical attacks
A year ago, the UN established the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon (OPCW). A Joint Investigative Mechanism or JIM was also established to identify those responsible for chemical attacks in Syria.
The international team concluded that the Syrian government under President Bashar Assad and the IS carried out chemical attacks between 2014 and 2015. "The information suggests the involvement of both the government of the Syrian Arab Republic and other actions in these alleged incidents," the report said.
The government used chlorine gas in two attacks and Islamic fighters used mustard gas in one attack, according to the JIM. Between December 2015 and August 2016, the JIM received more than 160 new allegations of the use of toxic weapons, including sarin, mustard, 4VX nerve gas, chlorine, and 61 other toxic chemicals.
Syria signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013 after accepting a Russian proposal to reduce its toxic weapons stockpile. The UN Security Council is scheduled to discuss the report on August 30.
mg/jil ( Reuters, AFP, AP)