The Civilized Countries of the World Must Punish the Syrian Regime Politically, Economically and Militarily for Preventing the Investigation Team from Entering
By: Agencia EFE
In its latest report released today, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) states that the Syrian regime’s refusal to allow the investigation team of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to enter Syria constitutes strong evidence against the regime, and that the civilized countries of the world must accordingly penalize the Syrian regime politically, economically and militarily for preventing the investigation team from entering
The six-page report states that the Syrian regime’s refusal to allow the OPCW investigation team to enter Syria to investigate and identify the perpetrators of attacks where chemical weapons may have been used proves beyond doubt that the Syrian regime has again been involved in these attacks, and it doesn’t want the OPCW to reveal this fact. The report refers to the statements by the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Mr. Fernando Arias, last Wednesday (June 12) quoted by Reuters, in which he revealed that the Syrian regime had prevented his team from entering Syria and that he had received two letters from the Syrian regime’s Deputy Foreign Minister informing him that the Syrian government would not permit the team members to access to any confidential information related to the Syrian chemical file.
The report stresses that the Syrian regime’s humiliating practices against the international community and the United Nations have always been a cumulative series of lies and misleading tactics due to the support of the Russian state, which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, which has turned the Syrian regime into a rogue regime, placing it above the law and accountability, and continuously enabling it to obstruct the work of the UN committees, to repeat its use of chemical weapons, and to kill the Syrian people with absolute certainty of its impunity due to this Russian support.
In this context, the report notes that although the Syrian regime was obliged to join the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Chemical Weapons on September 14, 2013, after using chemical weapons against the people of the two Ghoutas of Damascus on August 21, 2013, it repeatedly thwarted the OPCW team’s work, and failed to deliver all of its chemical weapons, as evidenced by the fact that it has repeatedly used them 184 times since September 2013 to date. In addition, the Syrian regime has always obstructed the international organization’s teams by deliberately delaying the granting of visas, delaying its responses to the organization’s messages, and hindering the access of inspectors to a number of areas. The report also notes the blatant steps taken by the Syrian and Russian regimes in order to obstruct the investigations, most notably into what happened in the attack on Douma city in Damascus Suburbs governorate in April 2018.
The report further notes that the replies submitted by the Syrian regime and the Russian government, in which they criticized the recent report of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), further prove that chemical weapons had been used in Douma city, without specifying who committed that act of criminality, since the OPCW had not yet expanded its mandate. These replies reveal that the Syrian regime and Russia continue to operate with the same mentality, outlook and approach towards chemical weapons, and confirm that there is no hope of changing this mentality except through serious sanctions that compel the criminals to comply with international law.
The report points out that the regime’s latest prohibitions on and prevention of the OPCW’s investigations coincides with the most recent attack in which the Syrian regime used a chemical weapon on al Kbaina village in the eastern suburbs of Latakia on May 19, 2019, which was the first chemical attack documented by the SNHR since the attack on Douma city in April 2018, as well as the first since the expansion of the powers of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, noting that these new powers mean the organization can now identify that the Syrian regime is the one who used chemical weapons, and that this ability is , according to the report, precisely what the Syrian regime and its Russian ally fear since this will prove the long series of lies they have engaged in with the cooperation of dozens of pro- and pro-Russia journalists, media figures and other propagandists, consequently supporting the use of chemical weapons as a crime against humanity.
The report notes that the civilized countries of the world, through their majority vote on June 28, 2018, succeeded in taking a step towards upholding international law and achieving justice; however, the same nations are currently powerless in the face of the Syrian regime’s preventing the OPCW from exercising its functions. If the Syrian regime succeeds in this objective without facing any political, military or economic pressures, it will undoubtedly repeat its use of chemical weapons, then use its standard strategy of denying doing so and claiming that there is no evidence, secure in the knowledge that Russia will protect it again in the Security Council.
According to the report, the Syrian regime used chemical weapons 184 times after Security Council Resolution No. 2118 of September 27, 2013, while it carried out 115 chemical attacks after Resolution No.2209, and at least 59 chemical attacks after Resolution No. 2235 of August 7, 2015.
According to the report, 222 chemical attacks have been documented by SNHR between December 23, 2012, the date of the first use of chemical weapons in Syria to be documented by the SNHR, and May 20, 2019; the Syrian regime carried out 217 of these chemical attacks, mostly in the governorates of Damascus Suburbs and Idlib, while ISIS carried out five other attacks, all in Aleppo governorate.
The report notes that these attacks resulted in the deaths of at least 1,461 individuals. All of the victims died in the attacks carried out by the Syrian regime, including 1,397 civilians, including 185 children, and 252 women (adult female), 57 Armed Opposition fighters, and seven Syrian regime prisoners of war who were being held in an opposition prison.
The report confirms that by using chemical weapons, the Syrian regime has again violated customary international humanitarian law, the Chemical Weapons Convention and all relevant Security Council resolutions, in particular resolution numbers 2118, 2209, and 2235. The use of chemical weapons also constitutes a war crime according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
The report stresses the need to convene an emergency session in the UN Security Council and to act quickly and to issue a resolution obliging the Syrian regime to allow the OPCW team to enter Syria unhindered and travel freely there, and threatening to use sanctions if the Syrian regime fails to comply.
The report recommends that other states should demonstrate greater solidarity against the Syrian regime, which is the main and most prominent user of chemical weapons of this century to date, and must act seriously and collectively to impose strict, deterrent, genuine and immediate sanctions, urging them to create a humanitarian alliance aimed at protecting Syrian civilians from chemical weapons and barrel bombs, because Russia will continue to obstruct the Security Council and to use its veto with impunity.
The report also calls on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to request that the Security Council act immediately to issue a resolution obliging the Syrian regime to allow the OPCW team to enter Syria, and to expose the Syrian regime and its Russian ally before all the United Nations organizations and bodies as well as before the media institutions, and to put serious pressure on the Syrian regime not to repeat its blocking the entry of investigators.