A new report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) formally accuses Syrian military forces of using banned chemical weapons.
First used by both sides during World War I, chemical weapons kill and maim indiscriminately. They cause horrible suffering, and those who survive an attack frequently are disfigured, often crippled for life.
The international community banned the use of chemical weapons in war through the implementation of the Geneva Protocol of 1925, and later established the sweeping prohibitions mandated by the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the use, development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, and transfer of chemical weapons.
Nonetheless, time and again the Assad regime has used these weapons -- not only against opposing forces, but also intentionally targeting primarily civilian neighborhoods.
According to the OPCW IIT report, on the evening of February 4, 2018, a Syrian military helicopter dropped at least one bomb containing chlorine gas on the rebel-held town of Saraqeb. At least 12 people were injured.
“This latest finding should come as a surprise to no one,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price in a written statement. “The Assad regime is responsible for innumerable atrocities, some of which rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The regime has consistently responded with death and destruction to calls by the Syrian people for reform and change.”
The Assad regime and its chief enabler -- Russia -- continue to vehemently deny the use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces, instead accusing the rebels of staging attacks and fabricating evidence. However, said Spokesperson Price, “No amount of disinformation, conspiracy theories or distortion of the facts by the regime or its enablers can argue away Assad’s crimes.”
“The United States condemns the use of chemical weapons, by anyone, anywhere at any time,” said Spokesperson Price. “The use of chemical weapons by any state or non-state actor presents an unacceptable security threat to all states and cannot occur with impunity.”
Spokesperson Price stressed, “All responsible nations must stand in solidarity against the deployment of chemical weapons by preserving the global norm against such use; and we must be ready to hold the Assad regime, and anyone who chooses to use these horrific weapons, accountable.