An International Civilized Alliance Must Be Formed to Hold the Syrian Regime Accountable and Deter It from Using Chemical Weapons Again
In the Syrian Network for Human Rights’ (SNHR) latest report released today marking the first anniversary of the chemical weapon attack launched by the Syrian regime against al Kbaina village in Latakia suburbs, SNHR emphasizes that an international civilized alliance must be formed to hold the Syrian regime accountable and deter it from using chemical weapons again.
The six-page report notes that the attack on al Kbaina was the first chemical attack launched by the Syrian regime since its chemical attack on Douma city in April 2018. Despite that fact that the Syrian regime had been subjected to air and sea strikes by French, British and US forces, which targeted facilities working to develop the regime’s chemical weapons program in Syria as a form of punishment for its reuse of chemical weapons, the regime again dared to challenge the international community’s ‘red lines’ and the UN Security Council resolutions related to the issue of chemical weapons by using them again in Syria.
According to the report, the attack on al Kbaina village took place on May 19, 2019, at around 08:00, where Syrian Regime forces stationed in the Jeb al Ahmar area to the south of al Kbaina village in the eastern suburbs of Latakia, used a missile launcher to fire three missiles loaded with poison gas which targeted a base used by Hay’at Tahrir al Sham located on a hill in the southwestern outskirts of al Kbaina village, resulting in the injury of four of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham’s fighters, who exhibited symptoms of breathing difficulty, redness of the eyes and tearing.
The report notes that in September 2019, the U.S. Department of State announced the results of its investigations regarding the attack on al Kbaina, which proved the Syrian regime’s responsibility, however, there has been no response to this chemical weapons attack.
The report calls on the OPCW’s Investigation and Identification team to include the chemical attack on al Kbaina village among the incidents which are to be investigated for several reasons, including that the attack took place more than three years after the OPCW’s announcement that the Syrian chemical weapons’ stockpile had been destroyed; this indicates, according to the report, that the Syrian regime has retained its capabilities to use chemical weapons up to this point. The report also notes that the attack on al Kbaina occurred despite earlier punitive attacks against the Syrian regime by a number of countries, due to its use of chemical weapons. The report further notes that the fact that the international organization proved this attack had been carried out despite these earlier punitive attacks confirms that the Syrian regime constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security, and there can be no doubt that, due to the international community’s limited reaction and the regime’s apparent impunity serves to encourage other, similar regimes and totalitarian states to manufacture and use chemical weapons.
The report provides statistics demonstrating that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons at least 217 times, including 33 attacks before Security Council Resolution 2118 and 184 attacks after it; among the latter 184 attacks, 115 attacks occurred after Resolution 2209, and 59 attacks after Resolution 2235, with all of these attacks resulted in the deaths of at least 1,510 individuals, including 205 children and 260 women (adult female).
The report stresses that the manufacture and use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime has contributed to the contamination of large areas of the Syrian territory, and the injury of tens of thousands of Syrians by these horrific weapons, noting that in light of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world should be more collectively assertive in opposing the manufacture of chemical weapons.
In this context, the report notes that Russia continues to provide various forms of military and political support to the Syrian regime, constantly calls for the lifting of sanctions against it, and has consistently denied all reports condemning the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons, with the organs of the Syrian regime that committed the crime of chemical weapons use being the same ones that still govern Syria today. This situation also makes it clear that the regime, which has routinely used chemical weapons against the Syrian people, cannot be trusted to protect the same people from any pandemics or diseases except insofar as doing so accords with its own interest.
The report calls on the United Nations and the Security Council to impose economic, political and military sanctions on the Syrian regime on the anniversary of its use of chemical weapons against al Kbaina village, and calls on the Syrian regime’s allies to condemn its use of chemical weapons, to work with the rest of the world to hold the Syrian regime to account, and to pressure it to enter into a political process that leads to a real political transition away from the despotic hereditary rule of the ruling family, which would contribute to lifting sanctions and moving towards democracy and stability.
The report recommends that the European Union, the United States of America, Canada, Australia and the rest of the world that imposed sanctions on the Syrian regime should insist on a permanent link between the issue of sanctions and achievement of a real political transition because easing the sanctions in the presence of the same leadership and state organs involved in crimes against humanity and war crimes means providing support to these repressive entities.
The report also stresses the need to increase the provision of humanitarian assistance to the World Health Organization to work in Syria in all regions, to ensure that its work is practiced freely away from the influence of local organizations affiliated with the Syrian regime in the areas under its control, and to continue to work to hold the Syrian regime to account for its use of weapons of mass destruction.
The report notes that in light of the continued failure of the UN Security Council, it is imperative to consider establishing a civilizational and humanitarian alliance in accordance with clear criteria aimed at providing urgent protection for civilians from brutal regimes in the event of their committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.