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Syria: Italy, deeply concerned by chemical weapons findings, calls for renewal JIM experts mandate

NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 7 – Italy is “deeply concerned” by the findings of the Joint Investigative Mission put in place by the UN and OPCW in Syria, which so far has confirmed that that chemical weapons have been used in Syria in six cases, four by the Syrian armed forces and two by Daesh.

“What happened in Khan Shaykhun in April 2017 and in Umm Housh in September 2016 is totally unacceptable and confirms the abysmal scale of human suffering in the Syrian conflict. We condemn it in the strongest terms. These episodes are a tragic reminder that international law, including this Council’s resolutions, as well as the international non-proliferation architecture, continue to be blatantly violated in Syria, by the government and by the terrorists further eroding – as emphasized by the Secretary General in his latest report – the taboo against chemical weapons”, Cardi said renewing, in his national capacity, Italy’s support to the team of experts: “As long as nobody is held accountable for these acts, the risk of their reiteration will remain and even grow.

Allegations of new incidents involving the use of sarin keep emerging, as examined by the OPCW Fact Finding Mission with regard to the incident in Ltamenah. “This is one more reason why fighting impunity, identifying the perpetrators and holding them accountable must be shared priorities of this Council. This is one more reason to renew the mandate of JIM which will soon expire”, Cardi stressed in his statement.

Washington and Moscow clashed over the OPCW report blaming Syria for a chemical weapons attack that killed about 100 people, with Moscow dismissing its findings as “mythical or invented” and the U.S. backing its finger-pointing at President Bashar Assad’s regime. The United States and Russia have circulated rival U.N. resolutions on extending the work of experts seeking to determine who is responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Russia vetoed a U.S.-sponsored Security Council resolution on Oct. 24 that would have renewed the mandate of the experts from the U.N. and the international chemical weapons watchdog for a year. The deadline for the renewal of the group is November 17 and Cardi, who holds the rotating presidency of the Council for the month of November, stressed the need for an agreement, even though at the moment “there are different positions on the subject”.

Both the Russian draft resolution and the U.S. version would renew the mandate of the JIM, but under very different conditions. Washington would like a two years mandate, renewable if necessary, while Moscow prefers to close the mission after six months. (@OnuItalia)

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