UN Security Council holds emergency talks after suspected chemical attack in Syria News
UN Security Council holds emergency talks after suspected chemical attack in Syria

The UN Security Council conducted emergency talks on Wednesday regarding an alleged chemical attack in Syria that killed numerous civilians. According to statement [press release] made by UN Secretary-General António Guterres Tuesday the UN is not currently in a position to independently verify if chemical weapons were used. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) [official website] has started gathering information [press release] to confirm if chemical weapons were used. The Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, which works to investigate human rights abuses in Syria since 2011, has said it supports [press release] OPCW’s fact-finding mission. According Gueterres, the use of chemical weapons constitutes a threat to international peace and security and it such weapons were used its a serious violation of international law.

The war in Syria [JURIST backgrounder] continues to have a devastating impact, particularly for the war torn region of Aleppo. In Feburary, according to HRW [advocacy site], the Syrian government conducted [JURIST report] “coordinated chemical attacks” on rebel controlled portions of Aleppo. The same month, more than 13,000 prisoners were hanged [JURIST report] in extrajudicial executions over a 5-year period at Saydnaya prison. In December the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profile] accused Syrian pro-government forces of going door to door and systematically killing civilians [JURIST report] in at least four Aleppo neighborhoods. The Russian/Syrian coalition committed war crimes in Aleppo during September and October, HRW said [JURIST report] in early December. Earlier that month UN officials urged [JURIST report] the international community to unite with the UN Security Council to protect civilians in the eastern Aleppo region. US Central Command concluded [JURIST report] in November that airstrikes carried out by the US-led coalition near Dayr az Zawr, Syria, in September did not violate international law. Also in November a group of German lawyers announced [JURIST report] the filing of charges against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, alleging that he committed war crimes in Aleppo.