Countries push for accountability for Syrian chemical weapons use

Perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks in Syria must face accountability, members of the UN Security Council said Tuesday, after a UN report confirmed that the Syrian government and Islamic State extremists have used such weapons in recent years.

The report by the joint investigative mechanism of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations found that the Syrian government has carried out two attacks involving chlorine since 2014 despite a ban by the Security Council.

Investigators found that Islamic State forces used mustard gas in an August 2015 attack.

The report was unable to provide definitive conclusions on the perpetrators of six other attacks.

Before the meeting to discuss the report, Matthew Rycroft, British ambassador to the UN, said that the Security Council must hold all perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks accountable, including by imposing sanctions.

Francois Delattre, French ambassador to the UN, said that the council must unite against weapons of mass destruction, which include chemical weapons, calling it an "existential fight, which must transcend differences at the Security Council over Syria."

However, Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador to the UN, said his country was not ready to impose sanctions based on the findings of the UN report.

"There are a number of questions which have to be clarified before we accept all the findings of the report and their conclusions, which are sometimes formulated in a way which does not give the impression of full confidence that those conclusions are entirely accurate," Churkin said.

In 2013, the Security Council passed a resolution requiring Syria to get rid of its chemical weapons stockpile and end such attacks. After the resolution, Syria also joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, an international treaty banning the use of chemical weapons.

Last update: Wed, 31/08/2016 - 02:11
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