7th anniversary of Ghouta chemical attack committed by Syrian regime

THE HAGUE / WASHINGTON, D.C. — It was not the only or last chemical massacre committed by the Syrian regime against the Syrian people, but it was the most horrific and most terrible.

“Bloodless victims”, “Slaughtering without blood”, “The massacre of the era” … with these phrases, Syrians all over the world commemorated the Ghouta chemical attack committed by the Syrian regime in eastern and western Ghouta, a suburb of Daramsuq (Damascus), in August 2013.

In the attack, government forces targeted anti-regime areas in eastern and western Ghouta with surface-to-surface missiles carrying chemical warheads loaded with Sarin gas. At least 350 — and upwards 1,400 — civilians, most of them women and children, are estimated to have been killed in the attack.

Experts and observers expressed their sadness that, despite overwhelming evidence, the perpetrators of Ghouta chemical attack had not been brought to justice.

In a vote of 29-3, a decision was adopted by the politically-divided 41-member Executive Council of the OPCW in The Hague condemning the continued use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime. Nine countries abstained.

The decision states that, “The Council … condemned the use of chemical weapons as reported by the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team (IIT), which concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the Syrian Arab Republic used chemical weapons in Ltamenah, Syria in March 2017.”

It “establishes that the Syrian Arab Republic failed to declare and destroy all of its chemical weapons and chemical weapons production facilities,” the decision said.

A stronger response to Syria’s violation of the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention could follow at the next meeting of the OPCW’s full membership, the Conference of States Parties, which starts in late November.

In a press release, the U.S. State Department stated, “On this sobering day, we urge the international community to advance efforts to hold the Assad regime accountable for its heinous acts and to rid the world of the scourge of chemical weapons once and for all.”