The Syrian Network for Human Rights called for holding the Syrian regime accountable on the Day of Commemoration for All Victims of Chemical War, which falls on November 30th each year. The annual commemoration was approved by the Conference of States Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention at its twentieth session, held in 2015.
On this occasion, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) recognizes the suffering of chemical attack survivors and their right to effective support and commemoration. The OPCW member states renew their determination to achieve the goal of a truly chemical-weapon-free world.
“On this day, it is necessary to recall the toll of chemical attacks that Syria has witnessed in the past years, and the toll that these attacks have taken on the direct victims, who are still waiting for justice and accountability,” the network said in a statement.
Statistics of chemical victims in Syria
According to the network’s database, at least 222 chemical attacks have been documented in Syria from December 23, 2012 (the first date of the documented use of chemical weapons) until November 30, 2022. The Syrian regime carried out 217 chemical attacks in various Syrian governorates, while ISIS carried out five chemical attacks, all in the Aleppo governorate.
The network pointed out that, overall, the attacks caused the death of 1,510 people. These victims comprised 1409 civilians, including 205 children and 260 adult women, 94 armed opposition fighters, and seven prisoners from the Syrian regime forces who were being held in the prisons of the armed opposition. These victims all died in attacks launched by the Syrian regime.
The chemical attacks also injured 11,212 people, including 11,080 in attacks by the Syrian regime, and 132 in attacks by the Islamic State.
Syrian regime still maintains chemical weapons
The statement stressed that implementing chemical weapon attacks is a complex process, and the Syrian regime is a highly centralized regime. These realities mean that such attacks cannot be carried out without the consent and knowledge of Bashar al-Assad, and therefore the decision is centralized and it is a deliberate policy of the Syrian regime, in which the army and security institution was involved. Principally, this means involvement from the leadership of the General Military Intelligence Division, the leadership of the Air Force Intelligence Division, the National Security Office, and the Center for Scientific Studies and Research.
The network’s database indicates the involvement of at least 387 prominent army officers, security services, civilianm and military workers affiliated with the Syrian regime. It demanded that all persons implicated be placed on US and European sanctions lists.
The monthly report of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, issued on January 24, 2022, devoted several paragraphs to the size of the obstacles imposed by the Syrian regime, which prevent the continuation of the organization’s smooth work. These impediments have directly caused the Executive Council’s lack of confidence in the regime authorities’ announcement that they have destroyed their chemical arsenal.
Demands for accountability of the Syrian regime
The Syrian Network for Human Rights demanded that the Conference of the States Parties at its 27th session recommend collective measures in accordance with international law. It demanded that the matter, including relevant information and conclusions, be brought to the attention of the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council under paragraph 4 of Article XII.
The network called on member states to exercise their right under article IX, paragraph 8, of the Convention to demand that inspections be conducted inside Syria to clarify and resolve any issues relating to possible non-compliance by the regime with the Convention’s provisions.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.