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Human rights groups present new evidence that Syria regime used chemical weapons

April 5, 2022 at 1:17 pm

Men, members of Syrian civil defense organisation, White Helmets release a white pigeon for people who lost their life in a chemical attack in Damascus, Syria on 22 August, 2017 [Amer Almohibany/Anadolu Agency]

Human rights organisations yesterday announced that they presented “additional evidence” to the investigation and prosecutorial authorities in Germany, France and Sweden that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons between 2013 and 2017.

The Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression, the Syrian Archive, the Open Society Justice Initiative and Civil Rights Defenders said in a joint statement that they submitted the documents “on the fifth anniversary of the sarin gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun.”

The statement explained that this evidence includes “video clips and interviews with witnesses, victims, defectors, and co-operators.”

In their statement the organisations recalled that on 4 April 2017, “the tragic attack on the city of Khan Sheikhoun occurred, in which the Syrian authorities used sarin gas, resulting in the death of more than 100 people, including 32 children and 23 women.”

Chemical weapons were used again in Douma, “which killed dozens of people.”

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According to the statement: “Khan Sheikhoun and Douma were not the first two sites where the Syrian authorities used toxic chemicals against citizens, as they had previously been used in Ghouta in August 2013, killing more than a thousand people.”

The statement pointed out that “in an attempt to hold those responsible for these crimes to account, the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression and the Syrian Archive collected additional evidence and information related to the chemical attacks on Ghouta in August 2013 and Khan Sheikhoun in 2017, in order to present it to the authorities in Germany, France and Sweden, where criminal investigations are being conducted.”

The statement quoted Mazen Darwish, president of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression, as saying that while Russia faces accusations of seeking to use chemical weapons against Ukraine, “the international community must take serious steps in the coming days against those involved in the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and it must send a clear message that the justice will hold them accountable for their crimes.”

Aida Samani, legal adviser at Civil Rights Defenders, said: “The international community’s failure to address the Syrian regime’s complete disregard for international standards and the loss of civilian lives has paved the way for more widespread atrocities committed by the government and its allies, in Syria and elsewhere.”