J’ai rencontré ce matin à mon initiative le Professeur Ake Sellström, chef de la mission d’enquête mise en place par le Secrétaire général des Nations unies et chargée d’établir les faits sur les allégations d’emplois d’armes chimiques en Syrie.
Je lui ai remis, au nom de la France, les résultats des analyses, réalisées par notre laboratoire désigné par l’Organisation pour l’Interdiction des armes chimiques pour l’identification des toxiques de guerre.
Ces analyses démontrent la présence de sarin dans les échantillons en notre possession. Au regard de ces éléments, la France a désormais la certitude que le gaz sarin a été utilisé en Syrie à plusieurs reprises et de façon localisée.
Nous avons décidé de communiquer aussitôt à la mission compétente des Nations unies et publiquement les éléments en notre possession. Il serait inacceptable que les coupables de ces crimes puissent bénéficier de l’impunité.
Independent UN panel calls for diplomatic surge to end ‘daily reality’ of war crimes in Syria
Mr. Pinheiro stressed that dialogue is the only way to find a solution to the conflict which has claimed the lives of more than 70,000 civilians and displaced more than four million since it began over two years ago.
“We ask that States exert influence over the parties to the conflict to compel them to protect civilians,” he added.
From findings based on 430 interviews and other collected evidence, the four experts stress in the report that there is a human cost to the increased availability of weapons in Syria, where arms transfers heighten the risk of violations, leading to more civilian deaths and injuries.
While the experts note that Government forces and affiliated militia have committed “murder, torture, rape, forcible displacement, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts,” as part of widespread or systematic attacks against civilian populations, they also note that armed anti-Government groups have also committee war crimes, crimes against humanity, including murder, sentencing and execution without due process, torture, hostage-taking and pillage.
“The violations and abuses committed by anti-Government armed groups did not, however, reach the intensity and scale of those committed by Government forces and affiliated militia,” the report says.
In addition, the precarious situation of Syria’s 4.25 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) is compounded by recent incidents of IDPs being targeted and forcibly displaced.
There are reasonable grounds to believe that chemical agents have been used as weapons. The experts say that allegations have been received concerning the use of chemical weapons by both parties. The majority concern their use by Government forces.
In four attacks – on Khan Al-Asal, Aleppo, 19 March; Uteibah, Damascus, 19 March; Sheikh Maqsood neighbourhood, Aleppo, 13 April; and Saraqib, Idlib, 29 April – “there are reasonable grounds to believe that limited quantities of toxic chemicals were used.”
It has not been possible, on the evidence available, to determine the precise chemical agents used, their delivery systems or the perpetrator. Other incidents also remain under investigation.
Conclusive findings – particularly in the absence of a large-scale attack – may be reached only after testing samples taken directly from victims or the site of the alleged attack.
“It is, therefore, of utmost importance that the Panel of Experts, led by Professor Sellström and assembled under the Secretary General's Mechanism for Investigation of Alleged Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons, is granted full access to Syria,” the experts say.