UN: Syrian regime accountable for sarin gas attack

The United Nations (UN) investigators on Thursday held Syrian regime forces accountable for the deadly gas attack, which claimed scores of lives in the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhun in April.

"The panel is confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Sheikhun on 4 April 2017,” the report written by the UN investigators under the body of Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) explained.

“Today’s report should lay to rest any discussion about who was responsible for the Khan Sheikhoun attack. This is the fourth attack where the UN-appointed inquiry has found that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in blatant violation of international humanitarian law," said Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch.

"The question now is whether Security Council and OPCW members, including Russia, will move to protect a key international rule and hold Syrian authorities accountable as they said they would,” he added.

Following the release of the report, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it confirmed, “The Asad regime used sarin nerve gas against the people of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria on 4 April with tragic consequences for hundreds of victims.”

He said, “Britain condemns this appalling breach of the rules of war” and urged the international community to, “unite to hold Asad’s regime accountable.”

Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, also said, “Today’s report confirms what we have long known to be true. ‎Time and again, we see independent confirmation of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime.”

“And in spite of these independent reports, we still see some countries trying to protect the regime. That must end now. Ignoring the overwhelming amount of evidence in this case shows a purposeful disregard for widely agreed international norms,” she said in a statement.

She stressed the chemical attack should not be tolerated and, “Countries that fail to do so are no better than the dictators or terrorists who use these terrible weapons.”

At least 100 people were killed and hundreds of others injured in the chemical attack on April 4 in Khan Sheikhun town in western Idlib province.

The investigation by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), was created by the UN Security Council in August 2015 following reports of chemical attacks in Syria. It became fully operational in January 2016 and presented its first report in February that year.

The report was submitted to the UN Security Council. 
Reports of chemical attacks on civilian populations and opposition fighters have continued to come out of Syria since an attack in August 2013 killed more than 1,400 people in East Ghouta near Damascus.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights said it documented at least 174 chemical attacks in Syria since September 2013 when the Security Council issued resolution 2118 for the dismantling of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.
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