WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the author of the Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act, issued the following statement regarding the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism’s (JIM) latest report on the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons.
“The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism issued another report on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The JIM confirmed what many of us already know: that Assad’s armed forces are responsible for the March 2016 attack in Qmenas which released toxic substances.
“The weaponization of toxic chemicals to kill or injure are clear violations of the Chemical Weapons Convention. This calls into question the Assad regime’s membership in the CWC, and adds to the existing evidence that the Assad regime is guilty of war crimes.
“I hope to see swift and decisive action at the UN Security Council and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to impose consequences for the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. The use of chemical weapons by a member of the CWC is unprecedented and must be answered with a strong response. At stake are not only the lives of innocent Syrian civilians who face the prospect of more chemical weapons attacks, but the legitimacy of international institutions like the CWC and the integrity of our rule-based international system.
“The mandate of the OPCW-UN JIM must be renewed to continue its work, and the Assad regime and its backers in Russia and Iran must be held accountable. This is absolutely critical not only for Syrian people who deserve justice for the unspeakable horrors they have been subjected to, but also to deter the use of chemical weapons in future conflicts.”