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Diplomats to Asharq Al-Awsat: Consultations at The Hague over Syria Chemical Weapons Use

Diplomats to Asharq Al-Awsat: Consultations at The Hague over Syria Chemical Weapons Use

Thursday, 11 January, 2018 - 07:15
Volunteers put on gas masks during a class on how to respond to a chemical attack, in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on September 15, 2013. JM LOPEZ/AFP

Western countries are seeking to create an international support group to investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria, diplomats in New York told Asharq Al-Awsat.

A diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said on the sidelines of a closed-door UN Security Council session that “there are ongoing consultations at The Hague to form an international support group aimed at creating pressure to keep the investigations and to hold those responsible accountable.”

A joint Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and UN body, known as the joint mechanism or JIM, has found that it was the Syrian air force that dropped sarin gas on the Idlib town of Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017.

Russia has called for the investigation to be put aside and for a new one to be carried out. Moscow has also twice used its power of veto at the Security Council to block the renewal of the JIM.

The OPCW is headquartered at The Hague.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch said that the Security Council’s 15 members should send a strong message to the Syrian regime “that those responsible for dozens of chemical weapon attacks will be held accountable and may face future prosecution.”

“By failing to hold those responsible for these appalling crimes accountable, the Security Council has effectively given perpetrators a green light to deploy sarin and other nerve agents, as well as mustard or chlorine gas against men, women and children,” the US-based rights group said.

The Russian government should change course, and support the Council in holding those responsible for chemical attacks accountable, it said.

“Even if it does not, UN members should continue to fund other UN investigative teams established to investigate crimes in Syria and ferret out those responsible for the chemical attacks,” HRW added.

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