SOHR exclusive | Why is the issue of using internationally prohibited weapons in Syria ignored? • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

SOHR exclusive | Why is the issue of using internationally prohibited weapons in Syria ignored?

Believing in the promotion of legal accountability, for being the fairest method based on the international charters to punish everyone practiced atrocities against the Syrians and destroyed their homes just to stay in power, we, at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), call for holding accountable all criminals, perpetrators of violations and all those who aided and abated heinous crimes against Syrian people.


For decades, the Syrian people have dreamed of having and enjoying dignity and freedom, but they have only plagued with hunger, displacement, killing and loosing beloveds and robbed of their basic rights.


Thousands of Syrians have been killed since 2011 due to bombardment with diverse weapons, including internationally prohibited weapons, thousands died of hunger and hypothermia due to freezing temperature after being besieged in several areas, while tens of thousands others were arrested, humiliated and tortured for participating in demonstrations.


Sadly, the issue of using of internationally prohibited weapons in Syria has been ignored and perpetrators remain at large enjoying “freedom”. A few days ago, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) posted a report a bout the use of industrial chlorine cylinders as a weapon in an attack in 2016, which targeted an area under the control of opposition factions, precisely near a field-clinic in Kafr Zeita in Hama province in north-west Syria. According to the report, approximately 20 individuals suffered from suffocation and breathing difficulties due to the attack at this time. The organisation clarified that investigators managed to identify the relationship between all evidences and reasoning of the attack, based on interviews with witnesses and digital evidence they obtained.


Several reports by other organisations have proved the involvement of both regime forces and opposition factions in using internationally prohibited weapons in Syria in different periods of time.


The results of such reports have raised several questions, about the reason behind leaving perpetrators involved in attacks with chemical weapons unpunished and the methods of fair accountability in light of “protection” by Russia, Iran, Turkey and China to these perpetrators.


Commenting on these reports, the politician and regime opponent, Rashed Al-Satouf tells SOHR “the current stage is the most serious one, especially with international institutions being unable to protect people and enforce the International Resolution, as well as the shameful subservience to the willing of major powers which disregard human rights, protect criminals and encourage impunity in return for their narrow interests. The lack of accountability for perpetrators of these heinous crimes, in turn, helps to deprive Syrian people from their basic rights and contravenes all values. The misdealing of the issue of using chemical weapons and all other crimes against the Syrians is attributed to the fact that major powers engaging in the Syrian conflict care about nothing but achieving their narrow and political interests. Ironically, some of these powers are directly involved in the ongoing massacres and turn a blind eye to the violations committed by other parties; this, in turn, encourages the violators and criminals to escalate violence and commit more crimes.”


“One of the most negative impacts of this shameful indifference by international actors has manifested itself in feel of hopeless and inability by the victims’ families and their mistrust of the entire international system, its laws and international traditions, which leads to more violence and helps to instill extremist ideologies in the segments of the Syrian society. Sadly, the parties which are supposed to protect international laws have become major violators of these laws through protecting their allies and affiliates and helping them to remain unpunished. The disastrous impacts of ongoing undermining of human rights system and international justice on the peace process in different area around the world, and in our region in particular, cannot be denied anymore,” adds Al-Satouf.


In an exclusive SOHR interview with the prominent politician and regime opponent, Fateh Jamous states, “the issue of using internationally prohibited weapons has been raised by Israel and USA, before the Syrian crisis, while all bodied sided with the USA for their own narrow interests. The Syrian people have to be aware that this is a complex political issue, not just a human rights violation. With the deterioration of military and political situation in Syria, Russia realised that there have been attempts to use the issue of using chemical weapons against the Syrian regime. Accordingly, Russia is working on marginalising  this issue in light of its relationship with Israel and its efforts of replace the USA. The Syrian regime, backed by Russia, has sought to keep this file aside. However, the USA and its allies has revived this issue under new pretexts. The Russians are a ware of the severity of this issue, especially since it allows USA to intervene in Syria’s affairs further, weather through the Article No. 7 of the UN Security Council’s Resolution or without permission by the United Nations, like the invasion of Iraq.”


“As long as the international disagreements regarding the Syrian crisis  are deep, complex and undeniable, all parties have been turned to rely on the international laws, so that all powers and international human rights centre will be familiar with the real situation on the ground. The Syrian regime did not aim to gain political or tactic interests by using chemical weapons, as it realised that it has been blamed for doing so. The regime would not benefit from doing such attack in secret, without letting Russia to be informed, especially since the use of chemical attacks could be counterproductive with the USA and Britain working on proving the involvement of Damascus in the such attacks depending on documentation by the ‘White Helmets’ organisation operating in north-west Syria. I think that the fascists and their supports are more than willing to use or threat to use chemical weapons. Thus, it is not right to press similar charges to both sides of the conflicts, relying only on reports by international institutions.”


Commenting on the developments of this issue and the efforts by various organisations to hold criminals accountable, Fateh Jamous says “a part of this issue represents a breach to human rights, while USA and Israel on one hand, and Turkey on the other are blamed for this part, while the responsible of the Syrian regime and Russia is confined to the geo-political and national sides. I believe that all deadly weapons, including nuclear and chemical weapons, must be wiped out and that wars and violence have to be reach an end. However, the situation in Syria is exclusive, as we are in the midst of a conflict with Israel which have the most deadly weapons ever, so we have to be armed with equivalent weapons. In the chemical file, we have been nationally defeated in the term of strategic situation, regardless our believes regarding the state’s ability to keep some techniques of manufacturing weapons for a future re-operation secret.”


“The Russian role in terms of the strategic situation was negative, and this complexity and ambiguity have to be clarified, especially to human rights organisations or centres. I think that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights can help to do so, specially since it sides with the Palestinian problem and rejects the scheme of Israel which insists on carrying on with its scheme, depending on its military superiority and readiness to use its deadly weapons. This issue is serious and very sensitive, and any of possible scenarios may be later lead to more disastrous developments with possible violence and geopolitical destruction of Syria. This issue is used by USA, Israel and Turkey for blackmailing the Syrian regime, while there is no fair tries. In the case that the worst assumptions occur, the use of chemical weapons by both sides, retaliatory response is expected to be taken by USA away from the UN Security Council’s resolutions, as Russia and China will resort to their right of veto, as always.”