Syria's Khan Sheikhun chemical attack report looms

OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu tells Anadolu Agency report into deadly gas attack will go to UN next week

Syria's Khan Sheikhun chemical attack report looms

World Bulletin / News Desk

A joint investigative mechanism set up by an international chemical weapons watchdog has said that it will issue a report next week to the UN on an April 2017 attack in Syria's Khan Sheikhun region.

The Joint Investigative Mechanism established by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN will present their findings to the UN Security Council, OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said.

Uzumcu -- a Turkish diplomat -- said the Bashar al-Assad regime (in the name of the Syrian government) declared its chemical weapon stocks to the OPCW in 2013 when a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

Stating that nearly 1,300 tons of these weapons have been removed from Syria under OPCW scrutiny, Uzumcu said: "We began investigating whether there are other chemical substances that should be declared but not reported; this process is still going on."

Bashar al-Assad regime's chemical weapon attack on Aug. 21, 2013 in the eastern Ghouta region of Damascus claimed 1,400 civilian lives, and more than 10,000 more were injured, mostly women and children.

After this attack, the expectation for intervention in Syria emerged -- "the red line" previously announced by the United States.

Russia prevented intervention by tabling an offer that the regime destroy all chemical weapons. The parties agreed on Sept. 15, 2013, and the process of destroying the chemical weapons, which the OPCW became part of, was launched. The organization announced this process was completed on 19 August 2014.

However, since the OPCW's task was limited to the inventory reported by the Assad regime, there was a doubt that all the chemical weapons had been destroyed.

According to a Syrian Human Rights Network report dated August 2017, the Assad regime has conducted chemical weapons attacks at least 174 times since September 2013.

Uzumcu, speaking about the East Ghouta attack, said a mechanism based on the 1925 Geneva protocol called the UN Secretary-General Mechanism was initiated as Syria was not a party to the CWC at the time.

He said a 12-member team, including nine OPCW experts, confirmed in an on-site investigation that sarin gas was used in the attack.

"However, they have not reached a conclusion about who used this. It is standing in front of the international community as an issue that needs to be clarified.

“I hope this is done in the future and those who responsible for the attack are taken to justice and punished," Uzumcu said.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Ekim 2017, 09:54