Posts Tagged ‘Uzumcu’

Russian blockade of Syrian chemical attacks probe prevents chemical weapons watchdog of UN from bringing international criminals to account

November 25, 2017
“Those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be held accountable…”

 

Syrians flee following a reported government airstrike in Hamouria, in the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus. (AFP/file)

THE HAGUE: The head of the international chemical weapons watchdog said Friday that Russia’s veto of UN Security Council resolutions to extend the mandate of an investigation team that lays blame for chemical attacks in Syria “creates a gap which needs to be addressed by the international community.”

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The mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism, or JIM, set up by the UN and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) expired earlier this month after the Syrian government’s staunch ally Russia blocked efforts to extend its mandate.
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© AFP/File / by Maria PANINA | This Syrian child was among the victims of a suspected sarin gas attack in Khan Sheikhun on April 4, which a UN report has blamed on the regime of Bashar al-Assad

Russia has been highly critical of the JIM’s findings that the Syrian government used chlorine gas in at least two attacks in 2014 and 2015 and used the nerve agent sarin in an aerial attack on Khan Sheikhoun last April 4 that killed about 100 people and affected about 200 others.

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The JIM also accused Daesh of using mustard gas in 2015 and again in September 2016 in Um Hosh in Aleppo.
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OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu lamented the end of the JIM.
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“It is unfortunate that the mandate of this mechanism is not extended and clearly that creates a gap which needs to be addressed by the international community,” he told The Associated Press.
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Members of the OPCW’s Executive Council were scheduled to meet later Friday to debate their response to the report.
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A draft decision put forward by the US, Colombia, Estonia and Saudi Arabia is expected to be discussed.
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It calls for the council to demand that the Syrian government immediately stop using chemical weapons and to express “its strong conviction that those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be held accountable,” according to a copy of the draft text seen by The Associated Press.
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Executive Council decisions are generally adopted by consensus, but with the US and its allies at loggerheads with Russia and its supporters, it is likely to be put to a vote.
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Russia and Iran also filed a draft decision for the council earlier this month calling for a “full scale, professional, and high quality investigation” in Khan Sheikhoun, including a site visit.
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“There are serious differences of view on the issues that are being discussed because it’s somehow the extension of the conflict which is still underway in Syria,” Uzumcu said.
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The OPCW has a fact-finding mission, which works to confirm allegations of chemical attacks in Syria, but does not apportion blame.
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Uzumcu said that there are allegations of more than 80 different uses of chemicals as weapons over the last two years.
“The list is long,” he said.
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Uzumcu said that mission will continue, including a visit to Damascus soon to look into Syrian government claims of attacks by fighters.
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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan meet in Sochi, Russia, on November 22, 2017
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‘Serious concern’ That Syria Used Gas Attack On Enemies of the Assad Regime

March 25, 2015

AFP

The world’s chemical watchdog on Wednesday said it is monitoring “with serious concern” reports alleging that Damascus unleashed a chlorine gas attack in northwestern Syria earlier this month.

“We have been monitoring the recent reports suggesting that toxic chemicals may have been used as weapons in the Idlib province in Syria,” Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons chief Ahmet Uzumcu said.

“The matter is of serious concern,” Uzumcu said in a statement, issued at the OPCW’s Hague-based headquarters.

A young man breathes with an oxygen mask on March 17, 2015 at a clinic in the village of Sarmin, southeast of Idlib, Syria, following reports of suffocation ...

A young man breathes with an oxygen mask on March 17, 2015 at a clinic in the village of Sarmin, southeast of Idlib, Syria, following reports of suffocation cases related to an alleged regime gas attack in the area. Photo credit Mohamad Zeen (AFP/File)

A monitoring group and opposition activists said six people, including three young children, were killed in the alleged regime gas attack in the village of Sarmin, in Idlib province 10 days ago.

The attack prompted outrage from rights group Amnesty International, which said it was further evidence of regime “war crimes”.

Activists have accused the Syrian regime of using chlorine — a toxic agent that can be considered a chemical weapon — on civilian areas in the past.

A report by the OPCW in January concluded “with a high degree of confidence” that chlorine gas had been used in attacks on three villages in Syria last year.

At least 13 people died in the attacks that were carried out from April to August, according to the report.

A chlorine-tinged cloud of smoke rises into the air from a bomb detonated by Iraqi army and Shi'ite fighters from Hashid Shaabi forces, in the Iraqi town of al-Alam

A chlorine-tinged cloud of smoke rises into the air from a bomb detonated by Iraqi army and Shi’ite fighters from Hashid Shaabi forces, in the Iraqi town of al-Alam Photo: AFP/Getty
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Uzumcu said Wednesday the OPCW would continue a current fact-finding mission into the use of “toxic chemicals for hostile purposes” in Syria.

After an August 2013 sarin attack outside Damascus that much of the international community blamed on President Bashar al-Assad’s government, the regime agreed to turn over its chemical arsenal.

But Syria did not have to declare its stockpile of chlorine — a toxic agent that can be considered a chemical weapon — as part of a disarmament deal agreed in 2013 because it is widely used for commercial and domestic purposes.

The Assad regime and the rebels have accused each other of using chemical agents, including chlorine, in the nearly four-year war that has killed more than 210,000 people.

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