The United States is applauding the Executive Council of the world’s chemical weapons watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), for its adoption today of a decision that condemns Syria’s use of chemical weapons. This decision brings us one step closer to holding the Syrian regime accountable for its use of chemical weapons.
Today’s decision sets out clear measures for the Syrian government to take, among them: the declaration of facilities where chemical weapons used in the Ltamenah attacks were developed, produced, stockpiled, and stored for delivery; the declaration of its remaining chemical weapons stockpile and production facilities; and the resolution of the outstanding issues with its initial declaration. The Syrian regime’s failure to fulfill these measures will result in a recommendation to the OPCW’s full body, the Conference of States Parties, to take further action.
In April 2020, the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Syrian authorities were responsible for three chemical weapons attacks on Ltamenah, Syria during March 2017. These attacks preceded the more deadly sarin attack in nearby Khan Shaykhun by less than two weeks, and were part of the same concerted campaign of terror perpetrated by the Assad regime. As Secretary Pompeo said in September 2019, the regime of Bashar al-Assad has waged a war against the Syrian people, resulting in the deaths of more than a half a million people and the displacement of 11 million more.
Following an exhaustive investigation examining all plausible alternatives, the OPCW IIT concluded that the Syrian government perpetrated the chemical weapons attacks. The OPCW has an established history of impartial, professional, and independent work in its role in implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Through this decision, the Executive Council reaffirmed that those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be held accountable and emphasized the importance of bringing the perpetrators to justice.
The decision fully aligns with the U.S. position that chemical weapons have no acceptable use anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances. This commendable action is the latest of a series of measures which international organizations have taken this year to hold the Assad regime and its collaborators accountable for crimes against the Syrian people, including UN determinations of lagging humanitarian assistance cross-line delivery and the UN Secretary General’s Board of Inquiry and UN Commission of Inquiry reporting on war crimes in Idlib. Only a political resolution as outlined in UNSCR 2254 will lead to an enduring solution to the Syrian conflict.