Turkey urges world to hold Assad accountable for Saraqib attack

The Turkish Foreign Ministry reiterated its calls on the international community to hold the Assad regime accountable for its crimes committed using chemical weapons in Saraqib.

In a statement, the ministry said the investigation team set up by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has determined Assad regime’s involvement in the aforementioned attack and that criminals should not go unpunished.

“Turkey will continue to support all efforts, including those by the U.N. and the OPCW seeking to ensure accountability in Syria,” the ministry said.

The Syrian regime’s air force used the chemical weapon chlorine in an attack on the town of Saraqib in 2018, the global toxic arms watchdog said Monday after an investigation.

The report is the second by an investigations team set up by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which has new powers to apportion blame for attacks.

The OPCW said in a statement the Investigations and Identification Team (IIT) “concludes that units of the Syrian Arab Air Force used chemical weapons in Saraqib on 4 February 2018.”

Despite strong objections by Damascus and its ally Moscow, OPCW member states voted in 2018 to set up the team to attribute blame for attacks. Previously, the watchdog could only say if chemical attacks had happened or not.

The regime has continued to deny the use of chemical weapons and insists it has handed over its weapons stockpiles under a 2013 agreement, prompted by a suspected sarin attack that killed 1,400 people in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta.

But OPCW investigators said they believed that orders for the 2018 Saraqib attack must have come from above, and there was no indication “rogue elements or individuals” were responsible.