Saturday, July 20, 2019 | ePaper
UN war crimes team documents further Syrian govt use of banned chlorine
Syrian government forces fired chlorine, a banned chemical weapon, on a rebel-held Damascus suburb and on Idlib province this year, in attacks that constitute war crimes, United Nations human rights investigators said on Wednesday.
The three incidents bring to 39 the number of chemical attacks which the Commission of Inquiry on Syria has documented since 2013, including 33 attributed to the government, a U.N. official told Reuters. The perpetrators of the remaining six have not been sufficiently identified. Weaponizing chlorine is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention, ratified by Syria, and under customary international humanitarian law, the investigators said in their latest report.
"To recapture eastern Ghouta in April, government forces launched numerous indiscriminate attacks in densely populated civilian areas, which included the use of chemical weapons," it said, referring to incidents on Jan. 22 and Feb. 1 in a residential area of Douma, eastern Ghouta, outside the capital.
Women and children were injured in the attacks, suffering respiratory distress and requiring oxygen, it added.
"The Commission concludes that, on these two occasions, government forces and or affiliated militias committed the war crimes of using prohibited weapons and launching indiscriminate attacks in civilian-populated areas in eastern Ghouta," it said.