A United Nations report claimed that the Syrian government was responsible for a sarin gas attack that occurred in April. The attack was located in rebel-held village “Khan Sheikun” in Syria, killing at least 87 people, including 30 children.
The report, released on October 26th, stated that “The panel is confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of Sarin at Khan Sheikhun on April 4th 2017”. An earlier investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) discovered evidence that indicated the attack was carried out by Syrian forces.
Sarin is a very dangerous and harmful toxic substance. It can be fatal, as it attacks the nervous system and causes incredibly painful and uncontrollable muscle contractions that make it impossible to breath, leading to death by asphyxiation.
The Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad has rejected the findings of this report.
The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported that an official in Syria’s foreign ministry said, “Syria rejects in form and substance what was included in the report of the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) that was announced yesterday”.
The official also stated that “ [Syria] considers the use of chemical weapons an immoral act, condemned everywhere, at any time, under any circumstance”. In terms of human rights and upholding peace this is a great stance to have. However if Syria rejects claims of responsibility for the attack, it may be necessary for them to diligently seek the true culprit to ensure justice is served to the victims.
The same Syrian official claimed that the report had been created based on instructions from the USA and other Western countries to place political pressure on Syria. In fact, after the chemical attack, there was an American missile strike against the Syrian air base in Shayrat that supposedly launched the attack.
Moscow and Damascus have also rejected claims that the Syrian government was behind the attack, suggesting instead that rebel forces were responsible and operated from within the village.
Additionally, shortly after the attack the Russian government claimed that the explosion was caused by “a conventional weapons strike by the Assad regime that accidentally hit a stockpile of chemical weapons that belonged to rebels or terrorists”.
Russian Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov blamed the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for neglecting to sample for sarin at the air base in Shayrat. He said this failure would likely result in a biased report of the chemical incident.
It is important to consider that Russia, a known ally of the Syrian government, could be behind the possibility of covering up a scandalous Syrian attack on its own citizens. Although the Syrian government has a positive stance against the harmful use of chemical weapons, it is difficult to conclude if its actions live up to its words.
Moving forward, the Syrian government, while it denies responsibility for the attack, should seek out the responsible persons to ensure this does not happen again. Other countries should continue to question the situation to place pressure on finding the responsible party.
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