Human Rights Watch has accused Syrian government forces of using deadly nerve gas on four occasions in recent months, including the April 4 chemical attack on Khan Sheikoun that killed nearly 100 people.
In a report issued Monday, the rights group said forces loyal to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad also carried out gas attacks in December of 2016 and March of 2017.
“The government’s recent use of nerve agents is a deadly escalation – and part of a clear pattern,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “In the last six months, the government has used warplanes, helicopters, and ground forces to deliver chlorine and sarin in Damascus, Hama, Idlib, and Aleppo. That’s widespread and systematic use of chemical weapons.”
The HRW report urges the U.N. Security Council to immediately adopt a resolution “calling on all parties to fully cooperate with investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and adopt sanctions against anyone U.N. investigators find to be responsible for these or past chemical attacks in Syria.”
Russia has vowed to veto any draft U.N. resolution that blames the Syrian government for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
Russia has used six vetoes in the past six years to protect Syria from Security Council action.
Syria has denied that is has chemical weapons.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said the United States is “quite confident” that the deadly April 4 attack in Khan Sheikoun “was planned and it was directed and executed by Syrian regime forces.”
Following that incident, President Donald Trump ordered a missile attack on the Syrian air base believed to be the source of the chemical weapons that killed scores of civilians.