Syrian regime and Isis carried out chemical attacks, say UN investigators

International team accuses Assad government of using chlorine gas in two incidents, and Isis fighters of using mustard gas

An international team has concluded that the Assad regime and Islamic Statemilitants carried out chemical attacks in Syria during 2014 and 2015.

The team from the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) accused the Syrian government of using chlorine gas in two attacks and Isis fighters of using mustard gas in one.

The UN security council established a joint UN-OPCW investigative team a year ago to identify those responsible for chemical attacks in Syria, and it examined nine cases in seven towns where chemical weapons were believed to have been used.

It determined responsibility in three cases and said evidence in three others pointed to government responsibility but was not conclusive. It said its findings in the three other cases were inconclusive.

The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, urged the security council to take “strong and swift action” against the perpetrators, and accused the Syrian government of violating a September 2013 resolution which ordered the council to impose measures under chapter 7 of the UN charter for “any use of chemical weapons by anyone in the Syrian Arab Republic”.

In September 2013, Syria accepted a Russian proposal to relinquish its chemical weapons stockpile, which averted a US military strike in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack that had killed hundreds in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta the previous month.

Power said the findings mirrored “numerous other confirmed cases of chemical weapons use across Syria, and countless other allegations of such use, including as recently as several weeks ago”.

The UN-OPCW team said that between December 2015 and August 2016 it received more than 130 new allegations from UN member states of the use of chemical weapons or toxic chemicals as weapons in Syria.

It said 13 alleged the use of sarin, 12 mustard gas, four VX nerve gas, 41 chlorine, and 61 other toxic chemicals.

“The information suggests the involvement of both the government of the Syrian Arab Republic and other actions in these alleged incidents,” the team’s report said.

France’s UN ambassador, Alexis Lamek, also called for action, saying: “When it comes to proliferation, use of chemical weapons, such weapons of mass destruction, we cannot afford being weak and the council will have to act.”

the source: The guardian