Assad's use of chemical weapons sets 'dangerous' precedent: US

Assad's use of chemical weapons sets 'dangerous' precedent: US
2 min read
04 April, 2018
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley made the remarks on the one-year anniversary of the Syrian regime's Khan Sheikhoun chemical weapons attack.
US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley at an emergency Security Council meeting [Getty]
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said on Wednesday that the body's inability to hold the Syrian regime accountable for repeated use of chemical weapons because of Russia's opposition has made the world "a far more dangerous place".

Nikki told the 15-member UN Security Council that other leaders, including North Korea's Kim Jong Un, took notice.

Her remarks come exactly one year after the Khan Sheikhoun attack left about 100 dead in a rebel-held area in Syria. 

"This reveals a dangerous trend," she said, noting the use of nerve agents elsewhere including against Un's half-brother in Malaysia and the poisoning of a spy and his daughter in England. 

In a joint statement marking Khan Sheikhoun's one-year anniversary, the US, Britain, France and Germany criticised Russia for vetoing the extension of the expert body from the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that blamed the Syrian regime for four chemical weapons attacks including Khan Sheikhoun.

Haley accused President Bashar al-Assad's regime of still using chemical weapons "practically every other week," including "credible reports of chlorine gas attacks" in Eastern Ghouta during the regime's latest offensive beginning February 18.

Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Moscow condemns any use of chemical weapons, "however real ones, not imagined ones."

"At the same time as some are running after phantoms of chemical weapons in Damascus, in the region dangerous chemical weapons terrorism potential continues to be masked," he said.

Britain's UN Ambassador Karen Pierce also criticised Syria for failing to answer 21 serious issues about "gaps, inconsistencies, and discrepancies" in its chemical weapons declaration to the OPCW.

Thomas Markham, the UN's deputy disarmament chief, told the council that discussions between the OPCW and the Syrian regime haven't resolved any of these issues.

"Resolving these outstanding issues will permit shared confidence in Syria's declaration, within the international community," he said.

Human Rights Watch has analysed evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria between August 21, 2013, and February 25, 2018 and concludedthe regime was responsible for the majority of 85 documented chemical weapons attacks.

Russia has used its veto at the Security Council to prevent holding the Syrian regime accountable for these violations, including a resolution on May 22, 2014 that would have referred the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.

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