The ‘Tiger Forces’ Responsible for the Saraqeb Chemical Attack Are Supported by Russia
(Link below to download full report)
Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) reveals in its report released today, entitled “29 Shameful States, Led by Russia, Voted against the OPCW’s Decisions”, that the ‘Tiger Forces’ responsible for the Saraqeb chemical attack are supported by Russia.
The eight-page report notes that the Syrian regime has carried out 184 chemical weapons attacks since it ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in September 2013. The report addresses the two decisions issued by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Syria, the resulting expansion of the OPCW’s mandate to include identifying the perpetrators of the attacks, and the states that voted against the two decisions, condemning these as “Shameful States”, since their vote defends the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons, and thus encourages the use of chemical weapons elsewhere in the world.
As the report further notes, the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons has represented a great challenge to the international community, and the Syrian case was a primary motive and inspiration for a large number of countries worldwide voting to expand the mandate of the OPCW, the first step of its kind since the OPCW’s establishment, which was an important legal and human rights achievement, with the beneficiaries to a great extent being the victims who were killed or injured by the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons against them.
As the report further observes, the OPCW States Parties adopted two decisions in this regard, the first of which stipulated the expansion of the OPCW’s mandate to include identifying the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons; this move has resulted in the publication of two reports by the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team (IIT), which confirmed the Syrian regime’s responsibility for four chemical attacks, with three of these cited in the first report (April 2020), while the fourth was cited in the second report issued in April 2021, namely Saraqeb attack on February 4, 2018. The report adds that the most prominent feature of the latter IIT report was the identification of the ‘Tiger Forces’ as bearing responsibility for leading the chemical attack in Saraqeb.
In this context, the report notes that through its support of the ‘Tiger Forces’, Russia has become a full accomplice in the use of weapons of mass destruction against the Syrian people, with this support making Russia a direct accomplice in this chemical attack, a fact which explains the extent of Russia’s desperation to distort the report’s findings, politically and in media, and its attempts to question the investigators, and demand that countries loyal to it vote against the OPCW’s decisions.
The report also addresses the second decision that was adopted by the States Parties to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on April 21, 2021, under which some of the rights and privileges of Syria as a member state were suspended, namely: To vote in the Conference and the Council – this was the first measure of its kind ever since the establishment of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in 1997; to stand for election to the Council; and to hold any office of the Conference, the Council, or any subsidiary organs.
The report adds that the states which voted in favor of the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons, and thus against the expansion of the OPCW’s powers, and against the strict methodological reports issued by it, showed their contempt most of all for the victims who were killed or injured as a result of the Syrian regime’s repeated use of chemical weapons of mass destruction, with the report condemning these “Shameful States”, adding that all the states in this group generally share the characteristics of dictatorship and hostility to human rights, with some being blindly loyal and wholly subordinate to Russia and Iran, the Syrian regime’s two principal allies. The report further notes that these states remain a minority and were defeated twice in the vote, because they support a cause that contradicts the most basic principles of human rights, stressing that they must be exposed. The report adds that the total number of these states – those which opposed the two decisions – is 29, providing a map showing these states.
The report indicates that each of the two decisions issued by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on Syria had received a majority of two-thirds of the votes of the Member States – present and voting –, noting that this vote in favor of the OPCW decisions by the majority of the world’s states delivers a stinging blow to Russia, the Syrian regime, and Iran, with a total of 100 states voting in favor of the two decisions.
Finally, the report welcomes the latest report issued by the OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team, confirming its details, and calling on all the OPCW’s Member States to take action at all levels to deter the Syrian regime and to end all forms of cooperation with it.
The report reveals that the latest decision issued by the OPCW, which stripped Syria, as a member of the Chemical Weapons Convention, of its privileges, will not constitute any deterrence to the Syrian regime and its allies, and additional steps must be taken by the United Nations General Assembly based on Resolution 337, aka the Uniting for Peace Resolution; in the event that the General Assembly is unwilling or fails to take any such steps, all the world’s liberal and democratic states must strive to implement international law by all means and methods and must form an international alliance for that purpose.