NEW YORK, 22 February 2016 (Joint Investigative Mechanism) — The Security Council considered the first report by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations (OPCW)-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism this morning, pursuant to resolution 2235 (2015). Covering the period from 24 September 2015 until 10 February 2016, the report provides an overview of the work of the Mechanism to date, the sources of information available to the Mechanism and the methodology behind the investigation.
In its initial phase, the Mechanism reviewed the incidents where the OPCW Fact-Finding Missions determined that chemicals were used or likely used as weapons in Syria. The Mechanism also examined additional information and evidence as obtained from Syria or other Member States, from civil society and regional organizations, and from open sources. On the basis of this information, the Mechanism identified six potential cases for further investigation. Another case was added in the briefing to the Security Council this morning. The seven potential cases with the dates of related incidents identified so far are:
- Kafr Zita, Hama Governorate, 11 and 18 April 2014
- Talmenes, Idlib Governorate, 21 April 2014
- Qmenas, Idlib Governorate, 16 March 2015
- Sarmin, Idlib Governorate, 16 March 2015
- Marea, Aleppo Governorate, 21 August 2015
- Binnish, Idlib Governorate, 23 March 2015
- Al Tamanah, Idlib Governorate, 29–30 April 2014 and 25–26 May 2014
The process of how the incidents were analysed, which led to the identification of these potential cases for investigation, is described in the report.
The Mechanism’s goal is to finalize by the end of February the review of all Fact-Finding Mission and non-Fact-Finding Mission information that they have obtained so far. At that time, the Mechanism is expected to confirm the cases that will be investigated further. The Mechanism may need to conduct its own investigation on the ground, due to the fact that the information and evidence obtained by the Fact-Finding Mission was not collected for attribution purposes, which is not within its mandate. The Fact-Finding Mission mandate is to investigate allegations of the use of chemicals as weapons and to identify the substance used.
Considering the passage of time since the incidents and the security situation on the ground, Virginia Gamba, head of the Mechanism, expects the investigation, which is to begin its second phase in March, to be challenging. The investigative team will be divided into two groups and will work in parallel. The Leadership Panel will report as soon as possible to the Security Council, keeping in mind the end of the Mechanism’s mandate in September.