The Assad regime has denied the conclusion of UN investigators that it has carried out 27 chemical attacks, including April’s sarin assault on Khan Sheikhoun in northwest Syria.
A report to the UN Human Rights Council detailed how the regime had employed sarin in the Khan Sheikhoun operation — killing at least 82 people and wounding more than 200, according to the investigators — and repeatedly pursued “toxic gas” attacks, probably with chlorine, in areas such as the Damascus suburbs and Hama Province.
Both the regime and its ally Russia have put out a series of unsupported, contradictory stories to try and escape blame for the attacks. Bashar al-Assad has insisted the Khan Sheikhoun operation, carried out by an Su-22 jet dropping a munition with the sarin, was “100% fabrication” — even though his officials provided samples with sarin to investigators.
On Friday, the regime said it “never used and will never use toxic gases against its people because it does not possess them in the first place and it considers the use of such gases a moral crime that must be condemned”.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has found that the regime has not destroyed all chemical stocks and facilities, despite a promise to do so after its August 2013 attacks near Damascus that killed more than 1,400 people.
Early Thursday Israeli warplanes struck a complex of the Syrian Scientific Studies Research Center, which oversees the regime’s chemical weapons and ballistic missile programs, in Hama Province.
The regime’s letter, sent by its Permanent Representative at UN offices in Geneva, offered no evidence to challenge the detail in the latest UN report.
Instead it insisted that the investigators and Human Rights Commission are “issuing reports and statements based on political accysations, not legal analysis, and…making media statements that are far from being neutral or professional”. It insisted the Commission “has become a cheap propaganda machine serving the agendas of certain states”.