Syrian government loses voting right at OPCW over chemical weapons

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – On Wednesday, member states of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) stripped Syrian government of its voting rights within the organization after it was found that its forces repeatedly used poison gas during the civil war.  

A majority of the nation voting at the OPCW supported a decision to immediately revoke Syria’s privileges at the agency.

The proposal was initiated by 46 out of 193 member countries on the OPCW’s governing Conference of States Parties, including Britain, France and the United States.

It passed by 87 votes in favor to 15 against, meeting the required two-thirds majority of votes, while 34 out of 136 countries abstained from voting.

Iran, Russia and Syria were among those to vote against.

Although largely symbolic, the move sends a political signal to Syria that breaches of the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits all use of chemicals on the battlefield, will not be accepted.

It gave “a clear no against continued use and possession of chemical weapons,” the representative of the Netherlands at the OPCW Tweeted.

On April 12, the OPCW released the results of the second report by its Investigation and Identification Team (IIT), which is responsible for identifying the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

The report has determined that chemical weapons have been used in Saraqib in the countryside of Idlib, northwest Syria, on February 4, 2018. 

The report reached the conclusion that there are reasonable grounds to believe that, “at approximately 21:22 on 4 February 2018, a military helicopter of the Syrian Arab Air Force under the control of the Tiger Forces hit eastern Saraqib by dropping at least one cylinder.”

Syria and its military ally Russia have repeatedly denied using chemical weapons during the war, which has turned the once-technical agency into a flashpoint between rival political forces and deadlocked the U.N. Security Council.

Report by Juan Shikaki