United to End Genocide is deeply alarmed by reports of chemical weapons attacks that may have killed more than 1,000 people, including many women and children, in Syria. United Nations chemical weapons experts currently in the country should be granted immediate access to the site of the attacks. Once the nature of and responsibility for attacks is determined, the UN Security Council should take action to hold the perpetrators accountable and to prevent further attacks.
While access to the site of the attacks remains restricted, there is significant video and photo evidence emerging of symptoms that chemical weapons experts have identified as consistent with the use of deadly nerve agents.
The United States and other countries have cited intelligence that confirms previous use of chemical weapons, but never on this scale. If the latest attack is confirmed, this would be the largest chemical weapons attack against civilians since Saddam Hussein’s attack against Kurds in Halabja, Iraq, in 1988 which killed between 3,000 and 5,000 people.
It is deeply regrettable that the UN Security Council, which held an emergency session immediately following reports of the attack, continues to be unable to agree upon even a strong formal statement to demand an investigation. Russia and China in particular have repeatedly blocked action in the Security Council even as the death toll reached over 100,000.
The United States should further use its intelligence resources and work with international partners to determine responsibility for the attack. If UN experts are not allowed in immediately, the United States should reevaluate its policy of sitting on the sidelines. The escalation of violence demands a strong response. The people of Syria deserve no less.