Syria

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 8th September 2014.

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Photo of Sylvia Hermon Sylvia Hermon Independent, North Down

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether chemical weapons have been used by the Syrian Government since August 2013; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

There is credible evidence of repeated chemical weapon attacks perpetrated by the Syrian regime since August 2013. The UK was among the first countries to call for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to investigate these allegations. The OPCW Fact Finding Mission was subsequently established in April 2014 and its work is ongoing. Despite the difficulty of investigating these allegations in a conflict environment, the Mission’s May 2014 interim report stated that the available information

“lends credence to the view that toxic chemicals, most likely pulmonary irritating agents such as chlorine, have been used in a systematic manner in a number of attacks”.

The August 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry report further stated that

“Reasonable grounds exist to believe that chemical agents, likely chlorine, were used...[and that]... those agents were dropped in barrel bombs from government helicopters flying overhead”.

Any use of chemical agents in warfare contravenes the chemical weapon convention, to which Syria acceded in September 2013. We will press for all those who use chemical weapons to be held to account for these war crimes.

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