UN Confirms Syrian Regime’s Responsibility for Khan Sheikhoun Chemical Attack

Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Professor Paulo Pinheiro gestures during a press conference ahead of his mission on at the United Nations office in Geneva, September 30, 2011.
Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Professor Paulo Pinheiro gestures during a press conference ahead of his mission on at the United Nations office in Geneva, September 30, 2011.
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UN Confirms Syrian Regime’s Responsibility for Khan Sheikhoun Chemical Attack

Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Professor Paulo Pinheiro gestures during a press conference ahead of his mission on at the United Nations office in Geneva, September 30, 2011.
Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Professor Paulo Pinheiro gestures during a press conference ahead of his mission on at the United Nations office in Geneva, September 30, 2011.

UN investigators said on Friday they had evidence that the Syrian regime was responsible for a Sarin gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed 87 people on April 4.

In the first UN report to formally refer to the regime’s responsibility, the UN commission of inquiry on the human rights situation in Syria announced on Wednesday that it had collected “a large amount of information” indicating that a Syrian aircraft was behind the horrific chemical attack on April 4.

“On April 4, as part of an airstrike... the Syrian air force used Sarin gas, killing more than 80 people, most of them women and children,” the report said.

“All the evidence can prove that there are enough objective reasons to believe that the air force dropped a Sarin gas bomb,” it added.

Wednesday’s report described the Khan Sheikhoun attack as a war crime and blamed the Syrian regime for at least 23 other chemical attacks, AFP reported. AP, for its part, quoted officials as saying that the regime was responsible for 20 of the 25 attacks since 2011.

“The lack of access to information did not prevent us from reaching facts or reasonable conclusions about what happened during the attack and who was behind it,” the committee’s chairman, Paulo Pinheiro, told a news conference.

UN investigators said they had documented a total of 33 chemical attacks to date, in their 14th report since 2011. They added that Syrian government forces carried out 27 attacks, including 7 between March 1 and July 7.

The investigators, who were prohibited by the Syrian authorities to access the territory to conduct their investigations, said they based their conclusions on photographs of rocket fragments, satellite images and eyewitness accounts.

They concluded that a Sukhoi 22 launcher, only owned by Syrian warplanes, carried out four strikes on Khan Sheikhoun at around 6:45 am on April 4.

While Damascus and its ally Moscow confirmed that chemicals had spread in the air after an air strike hit an arms depot producing chemical munitions and belonging to opposition factions, investigators rejected the suggestion, asserting that they had found no evidence to support the allegations.



Sudan's RSF Agrees with UN on Steps to Ease Aid Delivery

Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
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Sudan's RSF Agrees with UN on Steps to Ease Aid Delivery

Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Sudan's Rapid Support Forces agreed with the United Nations on some steps to ease aid delivery in areas under its control, a member of the RSF told Reuters on Thursday.

The Sudanese army has not reached any understandings on aid delivers with the RSF, he added. It is unclear if these steps could be implemented without the army's participation.

Meanwhile, a key supply route into Sudan's Darfur region, deemed at risk of famine by a global monitor, has been cut off due to heavy rains, a World Food Program official told Reuters on Thursday.
The UN agency has described Sudan as the world's biggest hunger crisis, with the western Darfur region most at risk as Sudan's 15-month civil war that has displaced millions and sparked ethnic violence grinds on.
WFP's Country Director Eddie Rowe said thousands of tons of aid are stranded at the Tina crossing on the Chad border, prompting the body to reopen talks with the army-aligned government to open an alternative, all-weather crossing further south called Adre.
"You have these huge rivers. As I speak now, our convoy, which is supposed to move over 2000 metric tons is stranded," he told Reuters from Port Sudan. Asked on the status of the talks that resumed this week, he said: "It's 50/50.”
WFP is now seeking clearances to move a large 70-truck convoy via a little-used, over 1000 kilometer route from Port Sudan to Darfur which Rowe said will involve crossing the battle lines of both the Sudan Armed Forces, the Rapid Support Forces and various militias.
He added that this mostly desert route has worked in the past but outside of the rainy season and that the last journey took weeks and was "fraught with a lot of challenges.”
In a separate interview, Mona Rishmawi, a member of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Sudan, told Reuters that she had met Darfur refugees in Chad who told her stories of escaping with virtually no water and eating grass along the route. "There's no doubt that people are starving," she said.