Izumi Nakamitsu, the United Nations High Representative for Chemical Disarmament Affairs, has emphasized that despite the Technical Secretariat of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)’s efforts to hold new rounds of consultations with the Syrian regime, they have not been successful. Meanwhile, the United States has reiterated the need to hold the regime accountable for its use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people.
During the monthly UN Security Council session on chemical weapons in Syria, Nakamitsu stated that the OPCW’s identification investigation team is currently investigating incidents in which chemical weapons were used or likely to have been used in Syria.
“Regarding the initial and subsequent announcement made by the Syrian regime since the last meeting of the Council on the chemical file, all outstanding issues have not seen any progress,” she said. She also explained that despite the Technical Secretariat of the Organization’s efforts to hold a new round of consultations with the regime, they have not been successful.
Nakamitsu stated that “due to the gaps and contradictions identified in the Syrian regime’s declaration, which remain unresolved, the Technical Secretariat currently recognizes that it cannot be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the agreement.”
The fact-finding mission had been deployed from 6 to 12 October and was preparing to deploy in the coming period.
At the end of December, the OPCW identification team found the Syrian regime responsible for the 2018 chemical attack on the city of Douma in Ghouta, east of Damascus, which killed 43 people and wounded dozens more.
At the session, Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Mills emphasized the importance of responding to the Identification Panel’s report and ensuring full implementation of Security Council Resolution 2118. He also highlighted the need to hold the Assad regime accountable for the “heinous crimes” it has committed against its own people.
“To address the shortcomings, the regime must allow the OPCW team to return to Syria without delay, resume inspections, and investigate the many contradictions and omissions associated with chemical weapons attacks in Syria,” he stated.
Mills emphasized “the cruciality of holding the Assad regime accountable for chemical attacks against its own people,” citing the OPCW investigative team’s third report that confirmed the regime’s responsibility for the 2018 chemical attack in Douma and refuted Russia’s claim that the opposition was behind the attack. He called on the international community to support the team’s efforts and take appropriate measures to ensure accountability for those responsible for using chemical weapons in Syria.
He explained that Russia was the one who controlled the air base from which the regime’s planes launched the chemical attack on Douma. He stressed that “the discovery of the Assad regime’s responsibility for the attack was not unique, as the Chemical Weapons Organization and the United Nations found that the regime used chemical weapons nine times.”
Mills urged the international community to “refrain from normalizing relations with the Syrian regime until these and other serious grievances of the Syrian people are addressed.” He stressed the US’s continued support for investigative efforts and emphasized that “holding accountable those responsible for such heinous violations is the least we can do for victims of chemical weapons attacks.”
In other news, Russian Deputy Representative to the United Nations Dmitry Polyanskiy said that “the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is preparing duplicate reports on Syria.” Hee stressed that Moscow “does not see any value in this session similar to previous sessions,” according to the agency RIA Novosti.
The regime’s representative Bassam al-Sabbagh accused the organization of ignoring the regime’s “constructive and fruitful cooperation and all the facilities” provided to its teams, and accused Western countries of “launching campaigns and making false accusations”.
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.