New York – The U.N. Security Council was briefed on Wednesday about the third inquiry of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and Fact Finding Mission (FFM).
The inquiry was carried out following a unanimous authorization by the 15-member Security Council under Resolution 2235 to determine which party used chemical weapons in Syria’s war.
Head of the Joint Investigation Mechanism (JIM) Virginia Gamba outlined the scope of the investigation saying that it was independent, impartial, and objective and was done in a very professional manner. Gamba said she is not surprised that certain parties are against it for telling the truth.
The session ended without the members agreeing on any point of the 98-page report.
Gamba asked the western countries to impose sanctions on Syria for using chemical weapons, which the Russian ambassador refused, saying the U.N. Security Council could not use the conclusions to impose sanctions.
Gamba stressed that her team, composed of 24 experts, concluded its work after gathering information “to identify perpetrators on the use of toxic chemicals in Syria.”
Gamba told the press that in Talmenes (April 21, 2014) and Sarmin (March 16, 2015) the Syrian Air Force was responsible for the toxic attacks. Whereas the city of Marea (August 21, 2015), is attributable to the ISIS “entity,” the only one with capabilities to use sulphur mustard.
In her briefing, Gamba used the word “entity” rather than organization to refer to ISIS .
As for the cases of Kafr Zita (April 18, 2014), Qmenas (March 16, 2015), and Binnish (March 24, 2015), Gamba said that they await further investigation and forensic analysis to determine the responsibility and that the final results will be published in the fourth report, due in mid September.
Sources said that it is possible for the Security Council to wait until the fourth report to discuss its next move and whether to impose sanctions or not.
Gamba said that the remaining cases can’t be discussed due to insufficient evidence.
“There are more actors today in Syria with the availability of the substances and the ability to mix them and use them, if they choose so, as chemical weapons; and this is something very worrying,” she added and concluded that: “So, we just want to say it very clearly, that all those responsible for the use of toxic chemicals as weapons in Syria must be held accountable in order to deter such actions in the future. “