What does the report say?
The report by the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team (IIT), which was published on 27 January, concludes that, on 7 April 2018, a helicopter of the Syrian Arab Air Force (Tiger Forces) dropped two cylinders filled with chlorine gas on two civilian buildings. Other possible scenarios repeatedly suggested in the past, for example by Russia, that, for instance, the White Helmets had staged the use of chemical weapons, were refuted. The report builds on the findings of the OPCW fact-finding mission that examined the site immediately after the chemical weapons attack and ascertained that chlorine gas had definitely been used. In order to go further and clearly identify those responsible for the attack, the IIT carried out wide-ranging investigations of its own, including chemical and forensic analyses, technical assessments and interviews with eyewitnesses.
This is already the third IIT report. The two previous reports also identified the Syrian Arab Air Force as being responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Ltamenah in March 2017 and Saraqib in February 2018. The accusations that Syria is using chemical weapons in the conflict have already been confirmed by several independent investigation mechanisms. Indeed, several NGOs estimate that the regime might be responsible for a few hundred uses of chemical weapons.
OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias will inform the OPCW Member States about the report on 2 February. It will then be considered by the United Nations Security Council.
The international response
The report demonstrates once again that the Syrian regime has perpetrated extremely serious human rights violations against its own population. Germany will continue to work to ensure that those responsible for these atrocities are brought to justice.
In a Joint Statement, the foreign ministers of the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany condemned this breach of international law in the strongest terms and demanded that such use of chemical weapons must not be without consequences.
Our governments condemn in the strongest terms the Syrian regime’s repeated use of these horrific weapons and remain steadfast in our demands that the Assad regime immediately comply with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Syria must fully declare and destroy its chemical weapons program and allow the deployment of OPCW staff to its country to verify it has done so.