Advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said May 1 that it has found new evidence that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons in at least four recent attacks targeting civilians. The report, “Death by Chemicals: The Syrian Government’s Widespread and Systematic Use of Chemical Weapons,” states that local residents and activists in Khan Sheikhoun town identified at least 92 people who likely died from chemical exposure. It also named three pieces of additional evidence to support the finding that the government has been committing crimes against humanity:
The Khan Sheikhoun attack sparked international outrage, but the attack on Khan Sheikhoun was not the only recent chemical attack by the Syrian government. Three developments since late 2016 show that the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons has become widespread and systematic:
Government warplanes appear to have dropped bombs with nerve agents on at least four occasions since December 12, including in Khan Sheikhoun; The government’s use of helicopter-dropped chlorine-filled munitions has become more systematic;
Government or pro-government ground-forces have started using improvised ground-launched munitions containing chlorine.
In at least some of the attacks, the intention appears to have been to inflict severe suffering on the civilian population, which would amount to crimes against humanity. .
HRW called for the UN Security Council to “immediately adopt a resolution calling on all parties to the Syrian conflict to fully cooperate” with OPCW investigators and “facilitate their unimpeded access to locations of chemical attacks.” The Syrian government has so far refused to fully cooperate with investigations concerning chemical weapons.
From Jurist, May 2. Used with permission.