Government, ‘Islamic State’ Known to Have Used Gas in Syria, Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Head Tells Security Council

SC/13060
7 November 2017
8090th Meeting (PM)

Government, ‘Islamic State’ Known to Have Used Gas in Syria, Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Head Tells Security Council

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) had been identified as responsible for the use of sulfur mustard at Umm Hawsh, and Syria as accountable for the use of sarin at Khan Shaykhun, Edmond Mulet, Head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)‑United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism, told the Security Council this afternoon.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) had been identified as responsible for the use of sulfur mustard at Umm Hawsh, and Syria as accountable for the use of sarin at Khan Shaykhun, Edmond Mulet, Head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism, told the Security Council this afternoon.

Presenting the Mechanism’s seventh report (document S/2017/904), he said that despite the challenges of investigating complex cases in the midst of an armed conflict, it had taken great care to ensure that its methodology and findings were technically and scientifically sound.

He said that two women on 15 and 17 September 2016 had been found to have been exposed to sulfur mustard at Umm Hawsh.  A mortar shell containing sulfur mustard had hit the house of one of the victims and a second mortar shell containing the chemical agent had been recovered lodged in the pavement.  The Mechanism had determined that ISIL had been fighting against groups belonging to the Syrian Defence Forces.  Based on the positioning of ISIL and the forensic assessment that the mortar shell had come from the direction of areas held by the group, the leadership panel was confident that ISIL was responsible for the use of the bombs containing sulfur mustard.

On 4 April 2017, an incident involving sarin had killed around 100 people in Khan Shaykhun, and had affected another 200 people, he said.  The Mechanism had examined eight possible scenarios, including that the incident might have been staged to place responsibility on the Government of Syria.  It could not establish with certainty that the aircraft which had delivered the chemical bomb had taken off from Al‑Shayrat air base, or identify the type of airplane involved.  However, he said, Syrian aircraft had been in the immediate vicinity of Khan Shaykhun at the time of the bombing.  The crater was determined by experts to have been most likely caused by the impact of an aerial bomb travelling at high velocity.  The Mechanism had not found any proof that the incident had been staged.

In‑depth laboratory study into the chemistry of the sarin had revealed that the nerve gas was very likely to have been made from the same precursor chemical that had come from the original stockpile of Syria, based on unique markers.  He said the leadership panel was confident that when taken together, all those elements and others constituted clear evidence that Syria was responsible for the use of sarin at Khan Shaykhun.

He said the Mechanism had carried out its mandate in respect of the incidents of Umm Hawsh and Khan Shaykhun.  It was now up to the Council to consider the next steps.  He asked the 15‑member organ that in doing so, it also consider the victims of those “insidious acts”.  It was not a political issue but an issue about the lives of innocent civilians, and impunity must not prevail.

Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, reporting on the implementation of resolution 2118 (2013), said that although the remaining two chemical-weapons production facilities declared by Syria could now be accessed, long-standing issues related to the country’s declaration on chemical weapons and subsequent amendments remained unresolved.

She said that efforts to resolve them had been hampered by a lack of historical records and an ongoing lack of access to senior officials that had overarching knowledge of the country’s chemical weapons programme.  “While it is a positive step that the Government of Syria has chosen to declare additional laboratories and their rooms in the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC), the Organisation on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ assessment remained that the declaration of the SSRC is incomplete,” she said.

Regarding the report on the alleged incident of the use of chemical weapons at Ltamenah, she confirmed that the OPCW fact‑finding mission could conclude that sarin “was more than likely used” in the incident.  Those recent findings were deeply concerning, particularly in view that the mandate of the OPCW-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism was set to end on 16 November.  “The unity of the Security Council will be necessary in order to avoid impunity in the use of these abhorrent weapons,” she stated.

The representative of the United States stated that that the Mechanism had fulfilled its tasks by identifying the perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria in a professional and impartial way.  The reports laid out how all information was obtained and transparently discussed any counter evidence.  She said it was time to act on the mandate renewal of the Mechanism.  She indicated that she would circulate a draft this afternoon, saying that Russian delegation had been engaged bilaterally and compromise language had been offered.  The only hard line was against language exempting Syria from accountability.

The representative of Russian Federation said his country condemned the use of chemical weapons, and it was important to attribute responsibility.  However, he said, there had been systemic deficiencies in the investigation and the Mechanism’s mandates had been implemented selectively.  Citing many of those deficiencies as well as inconsistencies in both investigations, he said the Mechanism had done its work remotely.  An objective investigation could have been better conducted if the compositions of the fact-finding mission had had a broad geographical basis.  His country wanted to enhance the effectiveness of the Mechanism, he said, and hoped the Council would approach the Russian draft resolution constructively, without politicizing it.

The representative of Syria said that, despite Mr. Mulet’s claim that his work was not political, he had made political judgements on terrorism in Syria.  The Mechanism’s report used the terms “likely” and “unlikely” 32 times, he noted, even though it was a scientific exercise that should only rely on surety.  The Mechanism had conducted remote investigations, saying among other things that the link to the chemical DF from the stocks of the Syrian Government was presented as fact even though such a precursor chemical could have been fabricated by any advanced country.  He called on the Council to use logic and seek clear answers to his many questions.  Support for terrorism and destruction of his country was the result of a joint plan between many countries in the region and the West, he said, and pledged that Syrians would overcome that plan and rebuild their country.

Ethiopia’s representative, noting that the Mechanism had been working under challenging circumstances due to a sensitive political environment and complex security considerations, said it was unfair to expect flawless work.  He said the report had described the sarin released at Khan Shaykhun as most likely being from the original stock of Syria.  However, the report had also noted that the analysis would warrant further study.  Moreover, the document had admitted that there were irregularities and discrepancies.  As a result of those and other irregularities in the report itself, he said he found it difficult to know how the Mechanism could be so confident that it had completed its work.  More work was needed, and it was vital to renew the Mechanism’s mandate.

The representatives of Ukraine, France, Egypt, Japan, Kazakhstan, Uruguay, United Kingdom, China, Bolivia, Sweden, Senegal and Italy also spoke.

The meeting began at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 5:49 p.m.

Briefings

IZUMI NAKAMITSU, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, reporting on the implementation of resolution 2118 (2013), said that the remaining two chemical-weapons production facilities declared by Syria could now be accessed due to a change in the security situation.  The Organisation for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (OPCW) was visiting those facilities in the first step in verifying their destruction.  However, she said, long‑standing issues related to Syria’s declaration and subsequent amendments remained unresolved.  Efforts to resolve them had been hampered by a lack of historical records and an ongoing lack of access to senior officials that had overarching knowledge of the country’s chemical weapons programme.  “While it is a positive step that the Government of Syria has chosen to declare additional laboratories and their rooms in the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC), the OPCW’s assessment remained that the declaration of the SSRC is incomplete,” she said.

Regarding the report on the alleged incident of the use of chemical weapons at Ltamenah, she confirmed that the OPCW fact‑finding mission could conclude that sarin “was more than likely used” in the incident and was continuing to work on looking into other allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  Those most recent findings were deeply concerning, particularly in view of the fact that the mandate of the joint OPCW‑United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism was set to end on 16 November.  She emphasized that allegations of chemical‑weapons use had not ceased, neither had the need to hold accountable those responsible for their use.  “The unity of the Security Council will be necessary in order to avoid impunity in the use of these abhorrent weapons,” she stated.  She pledged that her Office would provide any support and assistance needed for that purpose, “as we work together to restore the universal norm against chemical weapons and strengthen the broader non-proliferation regime”.

EDMOND MULET, Head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons‑United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism, said that despite the very real challenges of investigating complex cases during an armed conflict, the Mechanism had taken great care to ensure that its methodology and findings were technically and scientifically sound.  The Mechanism’s leadership panel had identified Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) as responsible for the use of sulfur mustard at Umm Hawsh, and Syria as accountable for the use of sarin at Khan Shaykhun.

He said in collecting, analysing and assessing information, the Mechanism had been guided by the terms of reference approved by the Security Council.  It had conducted its work in an independent, impartial and professional manner, guided by evidentiary standards as set forth in its first report.  The leadership panel had determined that there had been sufficient evidence of a credible and reliable nature to make its findings.  In conducting its investigations, the Mechanism had collected information from a wide range of sources.  A total of 12 Member States had provided case specific information, including Syria.  It had interviewed over 30 witnesses and reviewed 2,247 photographs, 1,284 video files, 120 audio files and 639 documents.  Technical teams had visited Damascus and the Al‑Shayrat air base in September and October.  Syria had engaged constructively with the Mechanism.

He said collecting samples at the air base had not been an objective of the Mechanism, as there was little chance of finding any trace of sarin or its degradation products without specific information as to where to collect samples.  The size of the air base was approximately 10 square km.  He said the Mechanism had not visited Umm Hawh and Khan Shaykhun as it was too dangerous.  The panel had considered that the Mechanism had gathered sufficient information to come to a solid conclusion.  The Mechanism had also obtained independent expert analysis and assessments and had consulted with several international recognized experts in energetic materials and the medical effects of chemical warfare agents.  It had cross‑checked witness statements and ensured that information gathered was credible and reliable.

He said that on 15 and 17 September 2016, two women had been found to have been exposed to sulfur mustard at Umm Hawsh.  A mortar shell containing sulfur mustard had hit the house of one of the victims and a second shell containing the chemical agent had been recovered lodged in the pavement.  The Mechanism had determined that ISIL had been fighting against groups belonging to the Syrian Defence Forces.  Based on the positioning of ISIL and the forensic assessment that the mortar shell had come from the direction of areas held by that group, the panel was confident that ISIL was responsible for the use of the mortar shells containing sulfur mustard.

On 4 April, an incident involving sarin had killed around 100 people in Khan Shaykhun, and had affected another 200.  The Mechanism had examined eight possible scenarios, including that the incident might have been staged to place responsibility on the Government of Syria, he said.  The Mechanism had carefully put together pieces of a complex puzzle, of which some parts were still missing.  It could not establish with certainty that the aircraft which had delivered the chemical bomb had taken off from Al‑Shayrat air base, or the type of plane involved.  However, Syrian aircraft had been in the immediate vicinity of Khan Shaykhun at the time of the bombing.  The crater was determined by experts to have been most likely caused by the impact of an aerial bomb travelling at high velocity.  The Mechanism had generally ruled out that an improvised explosive device could have caused the crater.  The fact that a large amount of sarin had been released was consistent with it being dispersed via a chemical aerial bomb.  The Mechanism had not found any proof that the incident had been staged.

In‑depth laboratory study into the chemistry of sarin had revealed that the nerve gas used was very likely to have been made from the same precursor chemical that had come from the original stockpile of Syria, based on unique markers.  He said the panel was confident that when taken together, all those elements constituted unmistakable evidence that Syria was responsible for the use of sarin at Khan Shaykhun.  The Mechanism had not identified specific actors within the Syrian Government and institutions.  The nature and logistics of the operation would involve a range of actors from different areas.

He said the Mechanism had carried out its mandate in respect of the incidents of Umm Hawsh and Khan Shaykhun.  It was now up to the Council to consider the next steps.  He asked the 15‑member organ that in doing so, it also consider the victims of those insidious acts.  It was not a political issue but one about the lives of innocent civilians.  Impunity must not prevail, he said, pointing out that today, news about another instance of the use of chemical weapons in Syria had been received.

Statements

NIKKI R. HALEY (United States), paying tribute to the professionalism of the Joint Investigative Mechanism and its head, said that the Mechanism had fulfilled its tasks by identifying the perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria in a professional and impartial way.  The reports laid out how all information was obtained and transparently discussed any counter evidence.  She noted that the Russian Federation had said they would be ready to renew the Mechanism authorization after they saw the report.  Publication of the report had occurred and it was time to act on the renewal.  She indicated that she would circulate a draft this afternoon.  The Russian delegation had been engaged bilaterally and compromise language had been offered.  The only hard line was against language exempting Syria from accountability.  “The Mechanism had done its job, now it’s time to do our job,” she said.  Ensuring that those responsible would be held accountable was critical to ending the use of chemical weapons.  The continuity of the Mechanism must be retained without another break as happened in 2016 in the face of the continued use of such barbaric weapons.

VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said that defending the perpetrators of chemical weapons use through manipulating facts or attempting to discredit independent international structures constituted a hallmark of the Russian Federation’s position on the issue.  Furthermore, the Council’s inability to respond to the use of such weapons aggravated the situation on the ground, he stressed, recalling the confirmation that ISIL/Da’esh possessed and had used chemical weapons.  The Syrian Government had failed to provide full and credible information on its programme, a clear violation of both the Chemical Weapons Convention and Council resolutions 2118 (2013) and 2235 (2015).  Against the backdrop of such developments, it was extremely reckless and utterly irresponsible to undermine the reliability and veracity of the reports of the fact‑finding Mission and the Joint Investigative Mechanism.  In order to eradicate the chemical threat from the region, the Mechanism’s mandate must be extended without delay, he emphasized, expressing support for the relevant United States draft resolution.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said that the recently‑released report on the chemical attack on Khan Shaykhun agreed with the assessment published by France in April.  “The facts were clear; there was no ambiguity,” he stressed, praising the professionalism of the Investigative Mechanism.  In its varied reports, it had found responsibility on the part of both the Government and Da’esh.  In reality, the Damascus regime had never fully abided by its international obligations.  While cooperating on the surface with the tasks required by the international programme, it had lied about the nature of its stocks and worse and had pursued a chemical programme.  It had not hesitated to use the arms against its own population.  The Mechanism had only shed light on that country’s actions.  The Council’s duty was to ensure that those responsible for the use of chemical weapons were held accountable.  Otherwise, the entire non‑proliferation regime would suffer.  If the use of such weapons was accepted, it would be giving a green light for further use and create an environment conducive for chemical terrorism.  Affirming that the Mechanism was not a tool of the West but of the entire international community, he stressed that it should not be held hostage to political squabbling.  As a critical part of the non-proliferation regime, it should be instead allowed to continue.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) voiced his deep regret about the chaos that Syria had been reduced to, one that had threatened the region and the entire world.  He decried the resort to weapons of mass destruction and renewed his condemnation of the use of chemical weapons by any party whatsoever.  In the interest of accountability, he noted that his country had backed the establishment and renewal of the Investigative Mechanism.  It was particularly important to maintain the regime against chemical weapons and keep terrorists and other non‑State entities from getting and using them.  Acknowledging the challenges that faced the Mechanism in a conflict zone, including lack of access to some sites, he said that, nevertheless, the Mechanism had done its job.  He called for dialogue among Council members so that unity could prevail and efforts to reach a peace supported.

KORO BESSHO (Japan) said the use of chemical weapons was entirely unacceptable under any circumstances.   The Security Council was in full agreement on that, and the fact that chemical weapons had been used in Syria was both extremely serious and a challenge to international peace and security.  The Joint Investigative Mechanism had identified, to the greatest extent feasible, Syria and ISIL as the perpetrators, he said, expressing his continued confidence in the Mechanism’s expertise, impartiality and professionalism.  Emphasizing that the Council relied on the Mechanism in order to meet its own responsibilities, he said the Secretary General could play a role in identifying ways to improve in its work.  “In any event, the JIM should not halt its operations while enhancing its capabilities,” he said.  Its work should continue until all perpetrators had been identified.

BARLYBAY SADYKOV (Kazakhstan) said the issue of chemical weapons use in Syria was one of the most pressing issues.  The Mechanism’s report said that the use of such weapons continued and must be stopped.  The use of chemical weapons had been proven and those responsible for those crimes remained unpunished, he said.  There was a need to strengthen the Mechanism’s investigative procedures, but it was also important to extend its mandate.  He had some issues on both incidents mentioned in the report and asked for more information, saying, among other things, that the conclusion about the use of Syrian airplanes was not convincing.  The time victims had been delivered to the hospital was not consistent with the time of the attack.  He confirmed, however, the importance of continuing the investigation and called for timely extension of the Mechanism’s mandate.

ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) said the use of chemical weapons in conflict was a war crime and a threat to international security.  Those responsible should be held accountable.  He encouraged Syria to cooperate with the OPCW to clear up all remaining questions.  Noting that the Council had not been able to reach consensus on the work of the Mechanism, he said he hoped an agreement could be reached in the coming days.  He called on Council members to take action based on the report, reflected in targeted sanctions.  He trusted in the impartial and professional work of the Mechanism as well as its integrity.

VLADIMIR K. SAFRONKOV (Russian Federation) said his country condemned the use of chemical weapons by anybody, anywhere, and it was important to attribute responsibility.  However, there had been systemic deficiencies in the investigation and the Mechanism’s mandates had been implemented selectively.  Saying that the Chemical Weapons Convention required gathering evidence at the sites of incidents, he said the Mechanism had done its work remotely.  The principle of the chain of custody had not been followed.  Providing examples of investigative deficiencies, he said the Mechanism had not been able to collect key evidence and depended upon testimony from such organizations as the White Helmets, which could not be taken at face value.  Security conditions could not be used as justification not to visit the air base, he said.  A visit had been conducted, finally, but there had not been a search for samples.  To determine whether sarin had been stockpiled at the air base, such a search was crucial.

He said that an objective investigation could have been better conducted if the composition of the fact‑finding mission had had a broad geographical basis.  The series of gross errors led to the fact that the conclusions of the report could not withstand criticism.  Words like “most likely” were unacceptable.  He then explained why the airplane referred to could not have dropped the bomb.  If there had been a chemical bomb, a mixing device would have been found in the crater.  He noted that the crater had been cemented over soon after the incident, pointing to attempts to destroy evidence.  The mixtures found in the sample could not be considered as unique markers, he said, and the chemical could have been produced anywhere to compromise Syrian authorities.  He said that in a video, individuals had been shown without special closing and seemed to feel just fine.  That confirmed the absence of sarin in the crater.  Was it possible that first an explosion was conducted, and then a video made, and then sarin was released, he asked.

Citing other inconsistencies, he said his country wanted to enhance the effectiveness of the Mechanism.  He hoped the Council would approach the Russian draft resolution constructively, without politicizing it.  In the current form, the Mechanism was a step backward.

JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom), thanked the Mechanism for its professional and impartial work that had reached a clear conclusion — Syria had used chemical weapons against its own people, despite being a signatory to the chemical weapons convention.  Some members would not accept the findings, however, even though the Mechanism was set up in its current configuration by the entire Council.  While it was critical for the 15‑member organ to speak with one voice to hold those responsible to account, the Russian Federation kept changing its manner of casting doubt on the reports to consistently cloud the issue.  He affirmed that the methodology of the Mechanism’s work was fully transparent, and he called for renewal of the Mechanism in the face of continued allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  The Russian Federation was currently protecting the Syrian regime, but the day would come when the victims would get the justice they deserved, he declared.

WU HAITAO (China) strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria and supported the efforts of the Mechanism.  He affirmed it should work impartially and base conclusions on fact.  He noted that the Mechanism had met challenges in its investigations in the conflict environment of Syria and that a member of the Council was considering improvement of its work.  In that context, Council members should work for compromise in deciding the future of the Mechanism.  He called on the Council members to remain focused on the big picture in Syria and maintain unity, to help bring about a political solution to end the crisis there.

PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia) called the use of chemical weapons a criminal act without justification.  Reaffirming the need to maintain unity in the Council so that those who used chemical weapons were held accountable, he reiterated that investigatory groups must ensure that their findings were independent, impartial and based upon fact.  The Mechanism was important and its work must be renewed.  All pending investigations must be fully carried out through use of the best techniques along with on-site investigation.  For that purpose, a timeline and a clear methodology must be determined for the Mechanism’s work and a consensus text must be negotiated by Council members.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) underscored that he understood that the Joint Investigative Mechanism had been working under extremely challenging circumstances due to a highly sensitive political environment and complex security considerations.  It was unfair to expect flawless work.  It was in that spirit that he had examined the report of the Mechanism, she said.  The report had described the sarin released at Khan Shaykhun as most likely being from the original stock of Syria.  However, the report had also noted that the analysis would warrant further study.  Moreover, the report had admitted that there were irregularities and discrepancies.  As a result of those and other irregularities in the report itself, he said she found it difficult, with all fairness and genuine curiosity, to know how the Mechanism could be so confident that it had completed its work.  It had covered a lot of ground, and was a work‑in‑progress for which the Leadership Panel deserved credit.  More work was needed, and it was vital to renew the Mechanism’s mandate.

CARL SKAU (Sweden), emphasizing that there must be no impunity for chemical weapons attacks, said he remained deeply concerned that OPCW remained unable to verify Syria’s initial declaration regarding its chemical weapons programme.  Full disclosure and proactive cooperation by the Syrian authorities were urgently needed.  He also expressed his full support for the Joint Investigative Mechanism, which had done thorough work, with all necessary research and corroboration, to conclude that Da’esh was responsible for the Um-Housh attack in September 2016 and the Syrian regime was responsible for the Khan Shaykhun attack in April 2017.  On extending the Mechanism’s mandate, he said that entity needed stability and predictability in order to continue its work.  It was also important to avoid the considerable costs that would result from a time gap in its mandate.  With its current mandate expiring in 10 days, the Council must unite to ensure a timely renewal.

FODÉ SECK (Senegal) reiterated his strong condemnation of chemical attacks in Khan Shaykhun and Umm Hawsh, noting that his country was a States‑party to the Convention on Chemical Weapons.  The allegations of multiple uses of chemical weapons in Syria showed that the Joint Investigative Mechanism was needed there.  As the risk of the use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists was a particular worry of Senegal, he welcomed the interactions between the Mechanism and the subsidiary organs of the Council.  Whatever one’s view of the report under examination, there was sufficient common ground to allow the renewal of the Mechanism’s mandate.  He urged that the spirit of compromise be retrieved for that purpose.  Because of its importance in the non‑proliferation regime, he reaffirmed his appreciation and support for the Mechanism’s work, encouraging the group to complete in full its Security Council mandate in an independent and impartial manner by determining the specific entities that had used chemical weapons.  In conclusion, he reiterated the need for a political solution to the entire Syrian crisis to stem the humanitarian suffering and shed clear light on the many allegations of the use of prohibited arms.

SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy), Council President for the month, speaking in his national capacity, supported the work of the Mechanism and expressed deep concern over the findings of its investigation.  The chemical attacks were totally unacceptable; he condemned them in the strongest terms.  The non‑proliferation regime continued to be continually violated in Syria.  As long as no one was held accountable, however, the incidents would continue to grow in number.  That was another reason to renew the mandate.  The Council must defend the crucial, long‑standing norms against the use of weapons of mass destruction by holding violators responsible and for that reason he had voted for the renewal two weeks ago.  He called for further attempts to reach consensus on the issue.

BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) thanked those who had demonstrated the shortcomings of the report under consideration.  Despite Mr. Mulet’s claim that his work was not political, he made judgements on terrorism in Syria that were political statements.  His country had consistently sounded the alarm on the transport and danger of the use of chemical weapons in Syria by terrorists.  Now, Mr. Mulet was evading those facts and saying that his mission was purely technical, he said.  The fact‑finding mission and the Mechanism were Machiavellian, he stated, due to their manipulation of information and moral terms.  The Mechanism’s report used the terms “likely” and “unlikely” 32 times, even though it was a scientific exercise that should only rely on surety.  It expressed confidence in its findings, nevertheless.  He said he personally handed Mr. Mulet information from the Syrian national report that he had claimed he did not have.  That report showed that the terrorist Nusrah Front was responsible for committing the attacks and had manipulated the evidence.

In addition, he asked why, if the Syrian army had been on the verge of retaking Khan Shaykhun, would it launch a criminal attack that would be universally condemned.  He also asked why the site of the attack was not visited through remote means by the Mechanism, and why previous attacks were not investigated.  He questioned many other details of the report, including its relying on the possibility of an air strike from a certain distance without showing how, and concluding that the crater in Khan Shaykhun was the result of an aerial bombing while stating that it could also have been caused by an improvised explosive device.  The link to the chemical DF from the stocks of the Syrian Government was presented as fact even though such a precursor chemical could have been fabricated by any advanced country.  In addition, some of the destroyed stocks could have been retained by a third party.  He called on the Council to use logic and seek clear answers to his many questions.  His country abided by the Convention on Chemical Weapons and no longer possessed chemical weapons, as was certified by the relevant officials.  He found it strange that the same words that were used to support the manipulated facts in the report had been used by former United States Secretary of State Colin Powell to support the report that was used as an excuse to attack Iraq.  Support for terrorism and destruction of his country was the result of a joint plan between many countries in the region and the West.  He pledged that Syrians would overcome that plan and rebuild their country, despite the violations of the United Nations Charter that were resulting in his nation’s destruction.

For information media. Not an official record.