Syria: New Chemical Attacks in Idlib
Human Rights Watch
3 June 2015
The Syrian government renewed its use of apparent toxic chemicals in several barrel bomb attacks in Idlib governorate in April and May 2015. Human Rights Watch interviewed local doctors and first aid responders to the sites of three attacks and analyzed photographs and videos of weapon remnants. The attacks were in violation of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, the laws of armed conflict, and a 2015 United Nations Security Council resolution.
The ongoing use of toxic chemicals in attacks gives greater urgency to tentative Security Council negotiations to create a mechanism to determine responsibility for the use of such illegal weapons. The Security Council is meeting on June 3 for its regular monthly briefing on chemical weapons in Syria.
“While Security Council members deliberate over next steps at a snail’s pace, toxic chemicals are raining down on civilians in Syria,” said Philippe Bolopion, UN and crisis advocacy director. “The Security Council should firmly establish responsibility and impose sanctions for these attacks, which defy its resolution and violate international law.”
Human Rights Watch conducted inquiries into three separate attacks in May in Idlib governorate, through interviews with three rescue workers who responded to the attacks, one of whom was affected by exposure to toxic chemicals, and two doctors who treated victims. Experts also reviewed photographic and video evidence. Two of the attacks took place just hours apart on May 2 in the nearby towns of Neirab and Saraqib, and the third on May 7 in the village of Kafr Batikh. The three attacks killed two people and affected 127 others, according to information collected by doctors who treated victims.
Human Rights Watch was not able to conclusively determine the toxic chemicals used in the three attacks. However the distinctive chlorine smell reported by rescue workers and doctors from attacks over the past two months, and the Syrian government’s previous use of chlorine, indicate this chemical was used in some if not all of the attacks.
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