Ten years ago, early in the morning of August 21, the regime of Bashar al-Assad released deadly sarin gas on Syrian civilians in the Ghouta district of Damascus.
“This brutal attack killed more than 1,400 people – sadly, many of them children,” detailed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield:
“ The world saw toddlers struggling to breathe, and besieged first responders desperately trying to decontaminate their neighbors. Piles and piles of bodies lined the streets. This attack was a sickening milestone in the regime’s campaign of terror against the people of Syria.”
Less than a month after the attack, and after broad international condemnation, the Assad regime joined the Chemical Weapons Convention.
“We now know that the regime never planned to comply with the [Chemical Weapons Convention],” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, and that it willfully hid chemical weapons from the [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.] Indeed, Syria used chemical weapons against its own people in nine subsequent attacks. ”The Assad regime has repeatedly lied to the international community and the investigators examining these incidents,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield:
“Syria has never provided a full accounting of its chemical weapons program. And, despite its obligations under Resolution 2118 to fully cooperate with the [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons], it has repeatedly obstructed the OPCW’s work.”
“The Security Council cannot allow Assad and his henchmen, who have killed thousands of people, to get away with these atrocities,” declared Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “ To do so would endanger all of us. It would mean turning a blind eye to regimes that choose to manufacture, stockpile, and use chemical weapons.”
The Assad regime will not escape accountability. Syria has a duty to implement its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and Resolution 2118. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield urged Syria “to stop delaying, obfuscating, and spreading disinformation.”
The United States remains committed to pursuing justice for the victims of Ghouta and other chemical weapons attacks, declared Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield:
“ We must never forget the victims and survivors of these attacks. Their loved ones deserve justice. The Syrian people deserve justice.”
“And this Council must come together to demand justice – and, at long last, real steps to end Syria’s chemical weapons threat.”