April marks the anniversary of two devastating chemical weapons attacks in Syria: the first on April 4, 2017 when the Assad regime deployed chemical weapons on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in the Idlib governate; the second on April 7, 2018 on the city of Douma. The attacks -- with their choking and suffocating poison -- killed scores of innocent women, men and children, and wounded hundreds more.
After World War One, when the horrific suffering from chemical weapons was on tragic display, the international community first banned their use, and then their production and stockpiling as well.
The Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons has been confirmed by the United Nations and by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, known as the OPCW.
Speaking at the recent UN Security Council briefing on chemical weapons in Syria, U.S. Representative to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield reiterated the United States’ continued support for “the impartial and independent work of the OPCW and its investigative bodies.”
Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield noted that the upcoming OPCW Conference of the States Parties offers an opportunity for the international community “to send a strong message to the Assad regime that the use of chemical weapons is simply unacceptable and comes with grave consequences.” She urged the States Parties to take decisive action and vote in favor of a draft measure to suspend Syria’s rights and privileges under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Recalling the testimony before the Security Council of Dr. Amani Ballour, who worked for years in Syria, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield noted that the worst night of the doctor’s life “was when she arrived at a hospital where children were suffocating after being exposed to sarin.”
“The women and children of Syria are waiting,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “They know the Security Council has said that chemical weapons attacks are unacceptable. They know we have the power to hold the Assad regime accountable. So, let us act. And let us show them that we are worthy of our charge.”