Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect: Statement on Today's Reported Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria
21 August 2013
Various eyewitness accounts indicate that a major chemical weapons attack took place in Damascus, Syria this morning. According to initial reports and video evidence, hundreds of civilians, including children, from around the Ghouta region have been killed after rockets armed with chemical agents were fired at the east Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar. If verified, today’s events represent the most deadly chemical weapons attack against civilians in decades and a terrifying escalation of the Syrian conflict.
These allegations come two days after a United Nations (UN) team of chemical weapons experts arrived in the country to investigate previous reports of chemical weapons use at three separate sites. (…)
The use of chemical weapons is a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law and constitutes a war crime. While the Syrian government vehemently denies the use of such weapons, this latest attack on civilians comes after more than two years of the government perpetrating ongoing crimes against humanity and war crimes. Armed opposition groups have also committed war crimes, albeit on a smaller scale than that of the government.
In keeping with the 2005 commitment by all states to uphold their Responsibility to Protect, members of the UN Security Council, who are holding emergency consultations this afternoon, must:
1. Demand immediate access for the UN chemical weapons team to the areas where the latest attacks have been reported;
2. Refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court for investigation;
3. Call upon all concerned parties to set a firm date to advance the “Geneva 2” peace talks.
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