Release of first OPCW report attributing chemical weapons use in syria

The Australian Government welcomes the release on 8 April 2020 of the Office for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) first report under its mandate of investigating and attributing responsibility for the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria.

The Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe the Syrian Arab Air Force used sarin, a chemical weapon, in southern Ltamenah, Syria on 24 and 30 March 2017, and that the Syrian Arab Air Force used chlorine as a chemical weapon against the Ltamenah hospital on 25 March 2017.

Australia’s position is clear and consistent: the use of chemical warfare agents or toxic chemicals as weapons – anywhere, by anyone, and under any circumstances – is prohibited, reprehensible, unjustified, and cannot be tolerated.

The international community cannot look away when fundamental rules and norms of the international community are breached. Those who use, enable, shield or order the use of chemical weapons must be brought to account.

Syria is a State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, and its military forces have been identified as using chemical weapons. It is imperative that Syria complies with its obligations and holds to account those who used chemical weapons, and ensures the complete dismantling and destruction of its chemical weapons program.

The Australian Government will take up this important issue as a member of the OPCW Executive Council when we join for a two-year term in May 2020.

Australia was at the forefront of international efforts to give the OPCW the mandate to investigate and attribute reported chemical weapons use. Importantly, the IIT is an impartial multilateral mechanism that no one country can veto.

To that end, Australia calls on all States Parties to take appropriate action and to ensure all users of chemical weapons, or those who command, enable or shield those who use chemical weapons, are held responsible.

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