Syria chemical attacks vastly undercounted: report

syria chemical attack

The independent Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) has released the findings of its own investigations into the twin chemical attack in Douma that took place April 7. Drawing on accounts from survivors, eye-witnesses and paramedics as well as an analysis of forensic evidence, the report finds that the Assad regime was “probably implicated in attacking Douma City using chemical weapons.” Based on its own review of accounts from the field, the report also charges that the regime has carried out no less than 216 chemical attacks in Syria—only a small handful of which won media coverage or international response. The report stresses that the regime “has demonstrated its utter disregard for the international community,” repeatedly violating UN resolutions condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria. By the SNHR’s count, the regime carried out 183 chemical attacks after Security Council Resolution 2118, 114 chemical attacks after Security Council Resolution 2209, and 58 attacks after Security Council Resolution 2235. The report notes that the attacks on Douma city took place just 72 hours after a Security Council meeting was held to discuss the status of the regime’s chemical stockpiles and assess the implementation of Resolution 2118. (SNHR, May 11)

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), empowered by the UN to investigate the Douma attack, is still conducting its study. But the OPCW just released  its findings on a February attack at Saraqeb  in Idlib governorate, determining that chlorine had been “released from cylinders by mechanical impact” at the site. It did not assign blame for the incident, in line with its limited UN mandate. However, medics and activists said at the time that chlorine-filled bombs had been dropped by a regime helicopter. (BBC News)

Resolutions calling for an investigation to actually assign blame in the chemical attacks have been repeatedly blocked by Russia at the Security Council. Before its mandate was ended thanks to a Russian veto last year, the UN Joint Investigative Mechanism documented 33 chemical weapons attacks in Syria, overwhelmingly attributed to the regime.

Note that the residents of Saraqeb last year rose up and drove off fighters of the local al-Qaeda affiliate that had occupied the town. So far from bombing (and gassing) jihadists as the Assad-Putin propaganda goes, the regime was bombing the civil resistance that had kicked the jihadists out.

Photo: SNHR

  1. Anger as Syria heads global disarmament body

    UN members have expressed dismay over Syria becoming president of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. The move comes weeks after the latest chemical weapons attack, in which the Syrian authorities are widely believed to have used gas against civilians. (BBC News, May 28) There is an online petition, urging members of the body to walk out when Syria takes over the presidency from May 28 to June 24.