NEW YORK, 27 October (Joint Investigative Mechanism) — The Security Council considered the fourth report (document S/2016/888) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)–United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism, pursuant to resolution 2235 (2015), which mandated the Mechanism to identify to the greatest extent feasible those involved in the use of chemicals as weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic where the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission determined that a specific incident involved or likely involved the use of chemicals as weapons.
The report provides assessments and conclusions on the three pending cases from the previous report, namely Kafr Zita (18 April 2014), Qmenas (16 March 2015) and Binnish (24 March 2015). It also includes overall assessments of the nine cases the Mechanism had investigated over its year-long investigation and an annex on information management.
The Leadership Panel concluded that in the case of Qmenas (16 March 2015), they had sufficient information to determine that the Syrian Arab Armed Forces were responsible for the attack which released toxic substances. Specifically, the Panel concluded that a Syrian Arab Armed Forces helicopter dropped a device from a high altitude, which hit the ground and released a toxic substance. In the cases of Kafr Zita (18 April 2014) and Binnish (24 March 2015), the Panel determined that the status of both remains unchanged.
Overall, the Mechanism identified actors in four out of nine cases under its investigation. In three cases, (Talmenes, 21 April 2014; Sarmin, 16 March 2016; and Qmenas, 16 March 2015) the Syrian Arab Armed Forces were identified as the actor, involved in the use of chlorine as a weapon. The Leadership Panel further indicated that all three attacks were conducted by helicopters belonging to the 63rd helicopter brigade based at the Hama and Humaymim airbases. In the case of Marea (21 August 2015), Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was found to be responsible for the use of sulfur mustard.
“The Leadership Panel strongly believes that those with effective control in the military units referred to in this report or others responsible for the use of chemicals as weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic must be held accountable,” Virginia Gamba, Head of the Joint Investigative Mechanism, told the media after her briefing to the Security Council.
Mandated by the Security Council resolution 2235 (2015), the Mechanism operated as an independent, impartial and objective body. Its work was undertaken in a professional and confidential manner, led by a three-member Leadership Panel (Virginia Gamba, Adrian Neritani and Eberhard Schanze).