UN, OPCW seek names of Assad commanders in gas attacks probe

Orient Net 2017-02-18 17:46:00

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A UN investigative panel is pressing the Assad regime to hand over the names of commanders, military units and other entities suspected of carrying out chemical attacks, according to a report released Friday, AFP reported. 

The joint panel of the United Nations and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has concluded that the Assad regime was responsible for three chlorine bombings of villages in 2014 and 2015.

In its latest report to the Security Council, the panel said it had formally asked Syria to provide details of air operations, specifically at two air bases from which helicopters carrying the chlorine bombs lifted off.

Investigators are seeking the "names of specific Syrian Arab Armed Forces units and any entity outside the Armed Forces" listed on flight plans, said the report by the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM).

"Such information is of great importance, given that commanders are responsible for any assets under their control," said the report. 

France and Britain are pushing the Security Council to impose sanctions on those responsible for chemical attacks and to ban sales of helicopters to Syria, AFP added. 

The panel said it was awaiting further determinations from the OPCW, which carries out fact-finding missions to establish whether chemical attacks took place, but does not attribute blame.

Human Rights Watch this week said it had collected witness accounts, photographs and video of at least eight chemical attacks carried out by the Assad regime in the final weeks of the battle for Aleppo late last year.