World, Middle East

Over 330 chemical attacks in Syria last 8 yrs: Report

According to German-based institute, Syrian regime allegedly carried out majority of chemical attacks since 2011

18.02.2019
Over 330 chemical attacks in Syria last 8 yrs: Report

By Erdogan Cagatay Zontur

ANKARA

The Assad regime is behind most of the over 330 instances of alleged chemical weapons use in Syria over the last eight years, according to a German NGO.

In its report "Nowhere to Hide: The Logic of Chemical Weapons Use in Syria," the Berlin-based Global Public Policy Institute (GPPI) said on Sunday that some 336 chemical attacks have taken place in Syria since 2011, the start of the civil war.

The report said 123 attacks were carried out in the capital Damascus, 123 in eastern regions of the Idlib province and northern regions of Hama, 55 in Aleppo, 10 in Homs, 10 in Deir ez-Zor, and two in Al-Hasakah.

Nearly 98 percent of the attacks were carried out by regime forces, the report added.

The Daesh terror group, meanwhile, carried out six of the chemical attacks in the civil war-torn country.

More than two-thirds of Syria’s population is internally or externally displaced, according to the report.

The report also said: “The Syrian regime’s persistent and widespread use of chemical weapons is best understood as part of its overall war strategy of collective punishment of populations in opposition-held areas.”

“The Assad regime did not merely ‘get away’ with its use of these banned weapons, but succeeded in using them for strategic ends.” 


Stopping the attacks

On ways to stop the Syrian regime’s strategy of chemical weapons use, the report said this will require halting the regime’s overall machinery of indiscriminate violence.

“In order to effectively disrupt the Syrian chemical weapons complex and deter their future use in Syria and other conflicts, the United States and the wider international community should directly target the military formations that would be responsible for any future attacks,” it said.

It added: “The Syrian helicopter fleet, which has played a critical role in the delivery of conventional and chemical barrel bombs, should be a primary target.”

The report said that approximately 90 percent of the attacks occurred after a 2013 chemical attack which killed hundreds of people in the suburbs of Damascus, crossing what then-President Barack Obama called a “red line,” saying it demanded a military response against the Assad regime.

During the first three years of the conflict, the U.S. Syria policy was based on Obama's demand that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad step down, economic sanctions imposed on the regime, and frequent warnings against crossing “red lines.”

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on protesters with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.

* Erdogan Cagatay Zontur from Ankara contributed to the story. 

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