MICHAEL R. POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE
APRIL 8, 2020
On April 8, 2020, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) released a report attributing 3 instances of chemical weapons use to the Assad regime. The OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) concluded there are reasonable grounds to believe that Syrian Arab Air Force dropped aerial bombs containing sarin in Ltamenah on 24 and 30 March 2017, and dropped a cylinder containing chlorine on the Ltamenah hospital on 25 March 2017, further confirming the regime’s continued use of chemical weapons and utter disregard for human life.
For more than nine years, the Assad regime has waged a bloody war against the Syrian people. The regime is responsible for innumerable atrocities, some of which rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Since the conflict began, more than half a million Syrians have died and eleven million people – half of Syria’s pre-war population – have been displaced. The regime has arbitrarily detained more than 100,000 people, many of whom it has tortured and killed.
Despite Syria’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013, the Assad regime has repeatedly used chemical weapons attacks every year since then to retain its grip on power. The OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism previously confirmed that the Assad regime used chemical weapons on multiple occasions, and now, the IIT report is the latest in a large and growing body of evidence that the Assad regime uses chemical weapons attacks in Syria as part of a deliberate campaign of violence against the Syrian people.
The United States shares the OPCW’s conclusions and assesses that the Syrian regime retains sufficient chemicals – specifically sarin and chlorine – and expertise from its traditional chemical weapons (CW) program to use sarin, to produce and deploy chlorine munitions, and to develop new CW. The Syrian military also has a variety of chemical-capable munitions – including grenades, aerial bombs, and improvised munitions – that it can use with little to no warning. The United States condemns the use of chemical weapons as reported by the OPCW IIT and demands that the Syrian Arab Republic immediately cease all development, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons.
The United States commends the thorough investigations and expert work of the OPCW, which has again demonstrated that its efforts in Syria are unbiased and professional. No amount of disinformation from Assad’s enablers in Russia and Iran can hide the fact that the Assad regime is responsible for numerous chemical weapons attacks. We urge other nations to join our efforts to promote accountability for the Syrian regime and uphold the international norm against chemical weapons use. The unchecked use of chemical weapons by any state presents an unacceptable security threat to all states and cannot occur with impunity.