UN Calls for Investigation Into Syrian Chlorine Attack
The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday called for an investigation into reports of alleged chlorine gas use in some Syrian towns, causing deaths and injuries, according to The Associated Press (AP).
Nigeria's UN Ambassador U. Joy Ogwu, the current council president, said the allegations were raised during a closed-door council meeting following a briefing Wednesday by Sigrid Kaag, who heads the mission charged with destroying Syria's chemical weapons.
"Council members expressed grave concern about alleged reports of the use of chlorine gas in some towns which left some people dead and injured and called for an investigation of these incidents," Ogwu said, according to AP.
Ogwu said council members called for an investigation but did not discuss who should carry it out.
Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said his government categorically denied the use of chlorine gas.
Ja'afari further disputed chlorine gas could be categorized as a chemical weapon saying, "it is a mundane substance used for bleaching clothes in the laundry or disinfecting swimming pools."
He also claimed the allegations were aimed at overshadowing "the successful preparations for the presidential elections in Syria" which are scheduled for June 3.
In two letters to the president of the Security Council, dated April 11 and April 16, the opposition Syrian National Coalition's special representative to the UN accused the Syrian regime of using chemical agents in two separate attacks in recent days.
Najib Ghadbian said Syrian forces used barrel bombs "loaded with chemical and toxic gases" on the opposition-held town of Kafr Zita on April 11, with a majority of the 200 victims civilians, according to AP.
In his other letter, Ghadbian said "regime forces were reported to have deployed chemical weapons in Harasta, a suburb of Damascus" on March 27.
The U.S. has already announced that it officially opened an investigation into claims of more chemical attacks in Syria.
Earlier this month, Israeli officials said they believe that the chemical attack in Harasta had indeed occurred, saying there was “strong evidence” it had taken place.
An international operation to destroy Syria’s stockpile of deadly chemicals is currently underway and is a joint Russian-U.S. plan that was endorsed by the UN Security Council in September.
The resolution was a last-minute measure to prevent an American strike on Syria in retaliation for the regime's alleged use of chemical weapons in an attack on a Damascus suburb in August that left hundreds dead.