UN team probing chemical attacks to visit Syria in March

UN team tasked with identifying those behind chemical attacks in Syrian civil war to start investigation in early March

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

Employees in protective gear hold a dummy grenade during a demonstration in the chemical weapons disposal facility at GEKA, in Munster, northern Germany, on October 30, 2013.

A UN investigative team tasked with identifying those responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria will begin investigations in March, the head of the panel said on Monday.

Virginia Gamba told journalists after a meeting in the UN Security Council that "security permitting," two teams plan to start field visits in early March.

"I want to assure the individuals, groups, entities or governments that minimally are thinking in that direction, or have thought in that direction, that these acts will be identified and that they will be held accountable for their actions," Gamba stressed.

Gamba reaffirmed the panel’s view and said that the use of toxic materials or weapons under any conditions is "totally abhorrent."

According to the report, examining the period between 24 September 2015 and 10 February 2016, the panel firstly determined seven serious potential events, including five in Idlib Province between 2014 and 2015.

Two other incidents are under investigation in Hama and Marea in Aleppo, where the DAESH terror organisation allegedly used mustard gas in August 2015.

Gamba has headed the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) set up in August by the UN Council after reports surfaced of chlorine gas attacks on three areas in Syria which killed 13 people.

Last Tuesday, the London-based Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said the regime of Bashar al Assad had used chemical weapons between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31 last year, mostly in Idlib, the Damascus suburbs, Hama, Homs, Daraa and Deir al Zour.

Toxic chlorine gas usage in Syria was banned under resolutions agreed by the Syrian regime and UN Security Council (UNSC) on 14 September 2013 following the August 2013 chemical attack on Ghouta in Damascus that killed more than 1,400 people including many civilians.

However, the SNHR report said "all our evidence indicate that the Syrian regime has violated UNSC resolutions 2118, 2209 and 2235" by perpetrating toxic gas attacks.

TRTWorld and agencies