Middle East News
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons: The Assad regime has used chemical weapons 17 times

The head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which works with the United Nations, said on Thursday that Bashar al - Assad's regime had used chemical weapons, banned by the international community, at least 17 times during the war in Syria.

Fernando Arias, the organization's executive director, said experts had investigated 77 allegations and came out with results confirming the "disturbing fact" that is coming, despite Syria joining the organization to ban chemical weapons in 2013.

Arias stressed that there are still many questions about the credibility of the Syrian regime when it comes to announcing its chemical weapons program, after "chemical weapons were found in samples collected in large storage tanks in September 2020."

He added that the organization did not receive a response from Damascus when it applied for entry visas in order to send an investigation team to Syria last month, which led to the postponement of the mission until further notice.

The Assad regime joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013 on the orders of its ally, Russia, after bombing East Gauta, near Damascus, with chemical weapons, causing hundreds of casualties, most of them children.

The Assad regime announced the destruction of its chemical weapons arsenal in 2014, which is still in dispute, after UN experts accused the Assad regime of carrying out three chemical attacks in 2017.

The Assad regime did not cooperate with foreign investigations at the time, leading to an unprecedented decision last April to suspend Syria's "rights" in the arms embargo organization.

The High Commissioner for Disarmament, Izumi Nakmitsu, stressed that "there is an urgent need not only to identify but also to hold accountable anyone who has used chemical weapons in violation of international law."

Nakmitsu called for unity in the UN Security Council to re-establish activity against chemical weapons in Syria.

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