UN presses to determine those behind Syria’s gas attacks

UN security council reaches unanimous vote to set up resolution to determine those behind Syria’s chemical attacks

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Members of the UN Security Council address a resolution to investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria during a meeting at the UN headquarters in New York August 7, 2015.

The UN Security Council attained an unanimous vote on Friday, asking UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the chief of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Uzumcu, to set up a plan to start an inquiry that could determine the identities of the perpetrators behind Syria’s chemical weapons attacks.

Finally identifying those responsible for the gas attacks in Syria could lead the way for firm action by the 15-member bloc.

The council has already released threatening consequences for such attacks, which would probably include prosecution.

The document requests Ban Ki-moon and Uzumcu, to submit within 20 days their approval to begin an investigative programme "to identify to the greatest extent feasible individuals, entities, groups, or governments" involved in any chemical attacks in Syria.

The resolution noted that innocent civilians are still dying from toxic chemical attacks even though it strongly condemned any use of such weapons in Syria.

It was highly important that those who are responsible for the gas attacks to be held accountable for their actions, said US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power.

“Pointing the finger matters,” Power told the Security Council after the vote.

The inquiry also states that no faction inside Syria should seek to develop or use toxic chemical weapons, in addition that all parties in Syria should identify and punish those responsibble of using chemicals as weapons.

A team of experts will be given the task of trying to identify those responsible by giving unhindered access to all areas within Syria, as well as being allowed to interview witnesses and gather evidence, according to the draft resolution.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s army has been constantly accused by the United Kingdom, France and the United States of carrying out chemical attacks and barrel bomb strikes on innocent civilians, including women and children.

However, Moscow has countered such accusations claiming that there is no evidence that the Syrian government is behind these attacks.

The Security Council has been facing extreme pressure to take binding action, as Syria’s conflict enters its fifth year.

The crisis has already claimed more than 200,000 lives, while Syria has now exceeded Afghanistan for the world’s largest number of refugees, a total of 7.6 million Syrians who were forced to flee their homes, with 3.7 million internally displaced, a report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated in June.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights had previously published a report concerning Assad’s usage of poisonous gas in attacks against Syrians, accusing Assad of breaking Security Council resolution number 2118 issued in December 2013 which forbids the use of poison gases in Syria.

The report stated that Assad repeatedly used toxic chemical weapons including the incident of the Ghouta attacks in 2013, which claimed the life of 1,300 Syrians.

TRTWorld and agencies