Russian Forces Have Been Politically and Militarily Involved in the Syrian Regime’s Use of Chemical Weapons
For the Syrian people, today’s date, April 4, brings back painful memories; this year is the second anniversary of the second most lethal chemical attack in Syria after the attack of the western and eastern Ghouta in August 2013, when a fixed-wing SU-22 warplane of the Syrian regime targeted the northern neighborhood of Khan Sheikoun in the southern suburbs of Idlib on Tuesday morning, April 4, 2017, using a missile containing poison gas believed to be sarin, killing at least 91 civilians, including 32 children and 23 women (adult female), all of whom were fatally asphyxiated.
The Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack was also the first of the regime’s chemical attacks to be clearly supported by Russian forces. We have documented several indicators supporting our claim against the Russian regime, with the Russian air force launching air strikes shortly after the chemical attack targeting several roads leading to Khan Sheikhoun city that hindered ambulances and the transfer of critical cases to hospitals and medical centers located at the Turkish border. The Syrian Network for Human Rights’ team also recorded additional Russian air strikes targeting al Rahma Hospital and the Civil Defense Center in Khan Sheikoun city, which were providing first aid to the injured. These attacks took place nearly three hours after the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed the use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun city without identifying the perpetrator; the attack took place in the period before its mandate allowed it to ascribe responsibility. However, the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) established by Security Council Resolution 2235 of August 2015 has confirmed the Syrian regime’s responsibility for the Khan Sheikhoun attack. In addition, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria documented the Syrian regime’s responsibility for the Khan Sheikoun attack. It was assumed that after these accurate and highly credible investigations, the Security Council would move to implement its relevant resolutions – Resolution No. 2118 of September 27, 2013, Resolution No. 2209 of March 6, 2015 and Resolution No. 2235 of August 7, 2015, to militarily penalize the Syrian regime, or at least to impose economic sanctions on the Syrian regime, including organs and individuals involved in the use of chemical weapons; unfortunately, it has failed to achieve any of this.