Dutch peace organisation PAX is appalled that yet another chemical attack has taken place in Syria, despite repeated UN Security Council commitments to end the use of banned chemical weapons and hold responsible parties accountable.
On Tuesday morning, attacks with a chemical substance killed at least 50 people, many of them children, in Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province. After the attack, a hospital and civil defence (White Helmets) in the area were also attacked in an effort to prevent victims from being rescued. Treatment is even more difficult as airstrikes recently destroyed the hospital in nearby Maaret al-Numan. PAX sees the actions, for which the Assad regime is allegedly responsible, as part of an extermination campaign. Suffering is further compounded because many civilians have fled or been forcibly displaced from their homes elsewhere in Syria to Idlib province.
The attack took place as representatives from around the world met in Brussels to discuss Syria. Yesterday's attacks are a blatant provocation of the international community precisely when it is trying to find ways to support Syria.
PAX calls for immediate UN Security Council (UNSC) action in accordance with UNSC resolution 2209, which "decides in the event of future non-compliance with resolution 2118 [that prohibits the use, production, stockpiling of chemical weapons by the Syrian government or any other actor in Syria] to impose measures under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter."
The UN Security Council has condemned chemical attacks in Syria on several occasions, but Russia and China have vetoed sanctions on the Syrian regime. PAX warns that UNSC inaction has been and will be perceived by the Assad regime as a green light to continue its extermination campaign. Ongoing impunity will only embolden parties to continue violating international humanitarian law, with civilians paying the price.
PAX also calls for opening the borders to Turkey to provide a safe way out for people trapped in Idlib province, as the protection of civilians remains at the heart of any sustainable resolution to conflict in Syria.
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