UN council to vote on condemning Syria chlorine bombs
THE UN Security Council is set to vote on Friday on a US-drafted resolution that threatens measures against the Syrian regime over its alleged use of chlorine bombs.
The United States drafted the resolution that “condemns in the strongest terms any use of any toxic chemical, such as chlorine, as a weapon in the Syrian Arab Republic.”
While the measure does not single out the Damascus regime over the use of chlorine, Western powers have made clear that the evidence points to attacks being carried out by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
The draft text states that the Security Council “decides in the event of future non-compliance… to impose measures under chapter 7” of the UN charter, which provides for sanctions and possibly military force.
It remained unclear whether Russia, Syria’s ally, would support the move and its serious threat of punitive measures. Russia’s UN mission declined to specify its stance.
A report by the OPCW chemical watchdog in January concluded “with a high degree of confidence” that chlorine gas had been used in attacks on three villages in Syria last year.
At least 13 people died in the attacks that were carried out from April to August, according to the report by the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
While the OPCW did not attribute responsibility for the chlorine attacks, it cited 32 witnesses who saw or heard the sound of helicopters as bombs struck and 29 who smelled chlorine. Only the Syrian regime has helicopters.
“There is clear and abundant evidence that points to the responsibility of the Syrian operatives,” said French Ambassador Francois Delattre, who chairs the 15-member council this month.
After an August 2013 sarin attack outside Damascus that much of the international community blamed on Assad’s government, the regime agreed to turn over its chemical arsenal.
But Syria did not have to declare its stockpile of chlorine — a toxic agent that can be considered a chemical weapon — as part of a disarmament deal agreed in 2013 because it is widely used for commercial and domestic purposes.
The Assad regime and the rebels have accused each other of using chemical agents, including chlorine, in the nearly four-year war that has killed more than 210,000 people.
The draft resolution stresses that those responsible for the use of chlorine and other toxic chemicals must be held accountable.
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