White Helmets rescuers with victims of the Assad regime’s sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun in northwest Syria, April 4, 2017
The international chemical weapons watchdog has again called out the Assad regime for its chemical attacks killing almost 2,000 civilians with nerve agents and chlorine.
Secretary General Fernando Arias told OPCW member states in The Hague on Monday that the regime remains in “serious failure to comply”.
Having moved chemical munitions to prevent examination, regime officials were refusing to grant a visa to an OPCW inspector. Damascus continue to fail in completion of any required tasks. The regime then agreed to a meeting the Lebanese capital Beirut — but only if the OPCW covered costs for travel, accommodation, and daily expenses.
The regime’s last mass killing with chemical weapons was in April 2018: 43 civilians perished when a helicopter dropped a chlorine canister on a residential building in Douma near Damascus. A week later, US, French, and British warplanes bombed three chemical weapons facilities.
However, the regime has continued to stonewall over the handover of its remaining chemical munitions and stocks. Last year it was stripped of its OPCW voting rights, overriding the objection of its enabler Russia.
At Monday’s meeting, US representative Bonnie Jenkins noted that the regime “has shown only contempt for the OPCW”.
The Assad regime’s Milad Attia repeated its long-standing denial of its war crimes: “Syria continues to be the target of unprecedented campaigns in OPCW history of skepticism and false accusations to achieve hostile political objectives of the US and its allies that they were unable to achieve through direct and indirect warfare.”