On 24 August 2016, the Joint Investigative Mechanism on Chemical Weapons Use in Syria, set up by Security Council Resolution 2235, published a report which confirms that Bashar al-Assad’s regime used chemical weapons against the Syrian people at least twice, in Talmenes in April 2014, and Sarmin in March 2015.
Another attack, in Marea in August 2015, is attributed to daesh.
Moreover, the Mechanism is also close to establishing the regime’s responsibility regarding three other incidents – in Kafr Zita in April 2014, and Qmenas and Binnish in March 2015 –, subject to further investigations.
Through its work, which I commend, a United Nations mechanism, created and mandated by the Security Council, has unambiguously given a verdict for the first time concerning those involved in the chemical attacks in Syria. As such it confirms the sheer horror of a conflict which has killed more than 300,000 people and which France has continually denounced, with the regime and Daesh resorting to every means, showing equal vileness when it comes to systematically terrorizing and slaughtering the Syrian people. The use of chemical weapons – which the Syrian authorities pledged to ban in 2013 when, under pressure from the international community, they signed up to the Chemical Weapons Convention – is an appalling act highlighting the Damascus regime’s overwhelming role in the continued deterioration of the situation in Syria. It demands a reaction commensurate with its gravity. It is consequently up to the Security Council to shoulder its responsibilities. France is already working with its partners on this.
Additionally, this confirmation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria demands more active efforts to finally open up the prospect of peace in Syria. With the violence continuing, particularly in Aleppo, it is more urgent than ever to implement a genuine cessation of hostilities, enable civilians to access the humanitarian aid they need, and create the conditions for the resumption of political negotiations with a view to a transition on the basis of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254. There will be no military solution in Syria, and the spiral of violence, which only causes ever more suffering for the people and fuels terrorism, must therefore be stopped. It’s time for the international community to pull itself together. France will resolutely contribute to this.