The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has published a statement on its investigation into the chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Syria on April 4, this year. The report confirms that the deadly nerve gas agent, sarin, was used in the attack.
The director-general of the OPCW issued a statement arguing that ‘the perpetrators of this horrific attack must be held accountable for their crimes’. Yet the organization didn’t draw any conclusions as to who was responsible for the attack. Arguing, that this was outside of their mandate. Seemingly for fear of spreading false information.
An inevitable devolution into he-said, she-said means that the pro-Assad Russian government claims that Assad’s soldiers ‘accidentally hit a stockpile of chemical weapons that belonged to rebels or terrorists’. In line with Assad’s unflinching tendency to blame rebel fighters for any and all internationally condemned actions.
This is the event that sparked US President Trump’s attack of a Syrian airbase. Supposedly having been moved after seeing horrific images of the attack’s aftermath. And while it seems there ought to have been an international investigation, the attack came only a few days after a White House report claimed that the Assad regime was preparing for a chemical attack on civilians.
Echoing the OPCW head, UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson said:
‘The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has now confirmed that sarin nerve gas was indeed used in a chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in northern Syria on 4 April.
‘This confirmation cannot be ignored. The UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism will now work to identify who was responsible. As I have said previously, the UK’s own assessment is that the Assad regime almost certainly carried out this abominable attack.
‘I urge our international partners to unite behind the need to hold those responsible for this atrocity to account’.
The organisation says the nerve gas has caused the deaths of more than 80 civilians and violates numerous international laws, including the chemical weapons treaty. Chemical weapons are banned outright after the horrors of World War I but that hasn’t stopped them being deployed on several occasions, often on civilians.
Johnson’s statement is true, an investigation must be carried out in the interests of common humanity. This means finding the truth of the horrific situation, as opposed to the blind posturing so characteristic of Trump.
The War Rages On
Both Assad and the Syrian rebels have made it clear that the welfare of innocent people is the farthest thing from their minds. Both have done horrifying things in the name of their cause. Assad in a bid to retain power, and the rebels in an attempt to free themselves from the yoke of a tyrant. While the US supports the rebels and Russia supports Assad, things are never as cut and dry as ‘good’ rebels vs. ‘bad’ Assad (the narrative largely pushed). Past investigations have shown that a huge number of Syrian rebels are affiliated or supportive of extremist religious groups or ideologies. Some sources even suggesting that a number of ISIS commanders left the terrorist organisation to join the ‘moderate’ rebels.
Whether or not one side has used chemical weapons is of course a matter of urgent international importance. The offending party must be brought to justice via international investigation. However, neither side is an ally to peace or freedom. Whoever wins, Syria will not be free.
There are no good guys. Only war criminals and innocent bystanders.