Reacting to Russian scepticism about the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons in populated areas, French authorities said on Monday that “there is no doubt” in Paris and in many other capitals that Syria used such illegal weapons against civilians.
Russia has called into question and openly criticised a report by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and its Joint Investigation Mechanism (JIM), which indicated Damascus had used toxic sarin and chlorine gas on at least four occasions.
“For France, like for the majority of States in the world, there is no doubt about the fact that Syria has employed chemical weapons and toxic substances as a weapon against its population since 2012,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a briefing.
Spokeswoman Agnes Von Der Muhll further noted that Russia had fully supported the OPCW at the outset and only started disputing findings that pointed the finger at the Syrian regime since 2016.
Russia subsequently refused to renew the UN Security Council mandate for the JIM last November because of differences over reporting and investigation methods.
“France wants to work with all its partners to re-establish a ban on the use of chemical weapons and determine who is responsible for the use of these weapons, in Syria and in the world,” the spokeswoman noted.
She said Paris would be proposing the re-establishing of another JIM-style mechanism of enquiry that would act independently to track WMD use.
Russia, according to Von Der Muhll, also seeks this objective and the issue will be addressed June 26 in The Hague at a meeting of signatories of the Convention Banning Chemical Weapons.
Source: Kuwait News Agency