Syria reaffirms cooperation with UN chemical weapons investigation

The Syrian government was ready to "continue its cooperation" with international investigators on the use of chemical weapons, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Saturday, noting that his country had eliminated all such weapons.

The comments before the UN General Assembly came a month after a joint investigative mechanism of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN confirmed that the Syrian government had used chlorine gas on two occasions since 2014.

The report also found that Islamic State extremists fired artillery shells filled with mustard gas during at least one attack in 2015.

"Syria reiterates its readiness to continue its cooperation with the Joint Investigation Mechanism, as well as to continue the Syrian relevant investigation," al-Moallem said.

"In fact, we have efficiently and responsibly eliminated all chemical weapons in Syria."

The UN report's findings have drawn international calls for accountability after Syria was required to get rid of its chemical weapons stockpile and end such attacks under a 2013 UN Security Council resolution.

However, Russia, a main ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has so far halted any accountability measures.

On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the investigation had produced a "good report" but cautioned against treating the findings as if they were definitive.

"[The investigators] present evidence, which is not conclusive, and they recognize this," Lavrov said. "We want truth to be established."

The report published in August found that Syrian government helicopters dropped chlorine on the Idlib governorate towns of Talmenes on April 21, 2014, and Sarmin on March 16, 2015.

The report, which had been commissioned by the Security Council to identify perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria, also found that the Islamic State used mustard gas in Marea in the Aleppo region on August 21, 2015. The investigators were unable to identify which side carried out chemical weapons attacks in six other cases, however, they continue to work on finding conclusive evidence in three cases.

Last update: Sat, 24/09/2016 - 19:07
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