UN To Investigate Chemical Weapon Use in Syria

The Joint Investigative Mechanism of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will begin investigating chemical weapons use in Syria by the end of October and will produce its first report within 90 days, a move US officials hope will lead to international pressure against Syrian President Bashar al Assad. The UN in August unanimously approved resolution 2235, creating the group to identify “to the greatest extent feasible,” government agents or non-state actors, including ISIS, that have used chemical weapons. Wa’el Alzayat, senior policy adviser to the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said during an Oct. 14 event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., the groups have access to regime-held and opposition-held areas to determine the use of chemical weapons. While the US has called out the Syrian regime for using the weapons, that government has claimed the use was by opposition. The Joint Investigative Mechanism is investigating independently to determine the extent of the problem. Following its initial report, the group is tasked with tracking any chemical weapon use in the country every 30 days. Mallory Stewart, deputy assistant secretary for emerging security challenges and defense policy in the bureau for arms control, verification, and compliance at the State Department, said the investigation will “demonstrate to the world the disgusting nature of the users. … It’s something that will hopefully be able to establish that whoever uses it is not worthy of supporting,” she said.