No less than 20 Chemical Attacks after the New Joint Investigative Mechanism’s Report, and 158 Breaches of Security Council Resolution 2118
SNHR Calls for the Prosecution of Users of Chemical Weapons in Mandated Regional Tribunals
SNHR has released its 23th report on the use of chemical weapons in Syria in which it called for a preliminary prosecution of the users of chemical weapons in mandated regional tribunals.
The report sheds light on the toll of the chemical attacks that were carried out by the Syrian regime in light of the Security Council Resolutions. 33 chemical attacks were carried out before Resolution 2118 was adopted on September 27, 2013, while 158 chemical attacks were carried out after the Resolution. The Syrian regime carried out 89 attacks using chemical weapons after Resolution 2209 was adopted on March 6, 2015, and 33 chemical attacks after Resolution 2235 was adopted on August 7, 2015, which establishes a Joint Investigative Mechanism. Also, the number of attacks after the Joint Investigative Mechanism condemned and declare the Syrian regime responsible for the use of chemical weapons was no less than 20 chemical attacks.
According to the report, ISIS perpetrated four breaches of Security Council Resolution 2118 and, at the same time, Resolutions 2209 and 2235. All of the attacks took place in Aleppo governorate.
The report notes that the attacks that were carried out after Resolution 2118 have resulted in the killing of 130 individuals who all were killed in chemical attacks carried out by Syrian regime. The death toll was divided into 78 civilians, including 40 children and 13 women, 45 armed opposition fighters, and 7 captives from the Syrian regime forces who were being held in an opposition prison. Furthermore, no less than 2289 individuals were injured in chemical attacks including 2164 at the hands of the Syrian regime, while 125 individuals were injured by ISIS.
The report includes the distribution of attacks that were carried out by the Syrian regime across Syrian governorates, where Idlib governorate saw the most of the chemical attacks with 41 chemical attacks, followed by Damascus suburbs governorate with 33, Hama governorate with 27, Aleppo governorate with 24, Damascus governorate with 22, Hama and Dara governorates with 4 attacks each, and Deir Ez-Zour governorate with 3, whereas all the attacks carried out by ISIS were in Aleppo governorate.
The report notes that The Security Council has adopted three major Resolutions on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. All of the three Resolutions provide that measure must be enforced under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter in the event of incompliance, as it is stated in provision 21 of Resolution 2118 -adopted on September 27, 2013- provision 7 of Resolution 2209 -adopted on March 6, 2015- and provision 15 of Resolution 2235 -adopted on August 7, 2015-. Furthermore, the Syrian regime signed the CWC in September 2013. In addition, the Joint Investigative Mechanism confirmed that the Syrian regime has been responsible for a number of chemical attacks. However, the Security Council has failed miserably to implement its resolutions, and the Syrian regime has successfully disregarded the CWC and all of the Security Council Resolutions.
Fadel Abdul Ghany, chairman of SNHR, adds: “As the Security Council is unwilling to take action, even though it has been proven that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons in tens of attacks and, thus, breached the three Resolutions and the CWC, alternative measures must be adopted. The Syrian Network for Human Rights calls for, in the meantime at least, initial convictions of those who used chemical weapons in mandated regional tribunals. All of the world states have to open their courts to hold the perpetrators of such horrendous acts accountable.”
The report says that the reports that were presented by the Joint Investigative Mechanism have only tackled nine attacks that took place in 2014 and 2015 in Hama, Aleppo, and Idlib governorates, and assigned responsibility in four attacks – three by the Syrian regime and one by ISIS. In contrast, the report documents 37 by the Syrian regime and ISIS after Resolution 2235 was adopted on August 7, 2015, which provided for the establishment of the Joint Investigative Mechanism.
The report draws upon survivors’ and eyewitnesses’ testimonies, and especially on doctors who treated the injured, and civil defense members. In addition, we reviewed the pictures and videos that SNHR received from our approved local activists. Some of the videos show injured exhibiting breathing difficulties, while other pictures show cylinders that are believed to be containing poison gases.
The report assets that Syrian regime forces have violated the international humanitarian law through the repeated and deliberate use of chemical weapons, which constitutes a war crime. The use of chlorine gas is a violation of Security Council Resolutions 2118, 2209, and 2235, and the agreement that the Syrian regime signed on September 14, 2013, which prohibits the use of poison gases and provides that they must be destroyed. All the states that signed the agreement have to find measure to deter the Syrian regime in order to stop its frequent violations. Also, the crime of willful killing constitutes a crime against humanity according to article 7 of Rome statue, as the Syrian regime has been perpetrating this crime in a systematic and widespread manner since March 2011.
The report calls on the European Union and the United States of America to support the neutral international Mechanism which was established in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 71/248, which was adopted on December 21, 2016, and establish regional tribunals that enjoys a universal jurisdiction. This crime, the use of chemical weapons which is one of the most serious crimes in this age, must be addressed.
The report urges the Commission of Inquiry to immediately start investigating the incidents that can be tackled, and take serious steps in order to accelerate the investigation and determine the party that is responsible for using this kind of weapons, especially after the Syrian government had signed the CWC.
Furthermore, the report stresses that the Security Council has to take effective, immediate action after the Joint Investigative Mechanism confirmed that the Syrian regime and ISIS have been responsible for certain attacks. Therefore, the Security Council has to uphold its responsibilities in preserving civil peace and security in Syria, as the Syrian government’s violations constitutes a blatant threat to the international peace and security. Also, the Security Council has to stop playing the game of political interests at the expense of the Syrian people’s blood. The Syrian regime’s utter disregard for Security Council Resolutions 2118, 2209, and 2235 is an unapologetic political disgrace and a grave insult to the Security Council.
Additionally, the report says that the Human Rights Council should shed more light on the Syrian regime’s breaches of Security Council Resolutions 2118, 2209, and 2235 in order to apply a greater pressure on the Security Council to take more serious, deterring steps.
Finally, the report emphasizes that Friends of Syria must provide the areas that are being targeted using poison gases (in light of the Security Council’s helplessness to stop these attacks) with protective masks. SNHR estimates that no less than 187,000 protective masks are needed in these areas in addition to the necessary equipment to eliminate the effects of the chemical pollution.