PHOTO: Children injured by Assad regime’s chlorine attack on Kafrzita in Hama Province, April 2014
The UN Security Council has adopted a US-drafted resolution condemning “in the strongest terms” any use of toxic chemicals, such as chlorine, in Syria’s conflict and threatening measures over any chemical attacks in the future.
The measure was endorsed 14-0, with only Venezuela abstaining.
While the resolution did not explicitly blame the Assad regime, which has used the chlorine in barrel bombs dropped from helicopters, it demanded that Damascus cooperate with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding mission.
Syria’s Ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari responded with the accusation of “political hypocrisy at the Security Council”, as Western countries are supporting terrorist activities.
The OPCW has produced a series of reports investigating the chemical allegations, expressing in February “serious concern…with a high degree of confidence that chlorine has been used repeatedly and systematically as a weapon in the Syrian Arab Republic.”
The Assad regime dropped chlorine on villages in Idlib and Hama Provinces in April and May 2014, hoping to check rebel advances and to capture the town of Morek on the main highway from Hama to Aleppo.
Doctors and activists said at the time that more than 20 people were killed. The OPCW said there were at least 13 deaths, as well as hundreds of injured. It supporting its findings with testimony of 32 witnesses who saw the regime helicopters carrying out attacks.
After the Assad regime killed almost 2,000 people near Damascus in August 2013 with a bombardment including sarin, a Security Council resolution demanded the handover of Damascus’ chemical weapons stocks and destruction of facilities. Friday’s resolution reaffirmed “that the use of chemical weapons “would constitute a violation” of its 2013 measures and of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Still, any enforcement of Friday’s measure with punishment of Damascus is likely to be blocked by the Assad regime’s ally Russia, which has veto power on the Security Council.