OPCW Report and Ongoing Concerns With Chemical Weapons Use in Syria

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 21, 2014

The OPCW’s Fact-Finding Mission investigating chlorine use in Syria recently released a second interim report that concludes with a high degree of confidence that chlorine was used as a weapon “systematically and repeatedly” in attacks on three villages in northern Syria earlier this year. The report cites witness accounts indicating helicopters were used in the attacks—a capability the opposition lacks. This strongly points to Syrian regime culpability.

The OPCW report raises serious questions about the Syrian regime’s compliance with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and UN Security Council Resolution 2118 as well as its willingness to continue using chemical weapons to kill or injure the people of Syria.

The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission also referenced a spate of reports about additional attacks in late August, “with accounts of the incidents bearing a strong resemblance to those that are now confirmed as having been chlorine attacks.” This finding, coupled with deep concerns regarding the accuracy and completeness of Syria’s declaration to the OPCW, raises especially troubling concerns that continued chemical attacks on the Syrian people by the regime could occur. The United States is gravely concerned about the findings in this report, which point to a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Assad regime must know that it will be held to account for such use in the international community.