FM urges need to clarify nature of April 4 atrocity in Syria

IRNA – Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for an “impartial inquiry to shed light on the horrific events of April 4” in Khan Sheikhoun in western Syria.

He made the call in his latest message tweeted on Sunday night local time.

The full text of Zarif’s message follows:

The establishment of an impartial international inquiry into the April 4 incident in Khan Sheikhoun, which saw scores of Syrian civilians – including women and children – tragically and horrifically lose their lives to chemical weapons, is absolutely imperative. Clarity on the precise nature, circumstances and perpetrators of this atrocity is indispensable and urgently required.

Having been the only recent victim of large-scale, systematic and frequent use of chemical weapons – perpetrated with impunity by Saddam Hossein through much of his 8-year war of aggression against Iran – the Islamic Republic if Iran is unshakable in its unequivocal condemnation of all uses of such heinous and illegal armaments, regardless of the perpetrator or the victim. The Islamic Republic of Iran firmly believes that the only way to prevent the recurrence of such war crimes is the total elimination of all weapons of mass destruction (WMD), as provided for under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and hopefully a future treaty banning and destroying all nuclear weapons.

The tragedy in Khan Sheikhoun took place within a peculiar context.

1- Syria and its government had recently gained the upper hand – both militarily and politically, while the extremist and their benefactors were desperate.

i. the remnants of the anti-Syrian coalition had finally conceded that the future of Syrian government must be decided by Syrians, abandoning- however, belatedly and after countless lives lost – a precondition that had prevented an indispensable political settlement.

ii. following defeats on the battleground, including obliteration in Aleppo, and the total failure of their latest foreign-ordered and foreign-paid offensive in Homs, the extremists and their sponsors were absolutely desperate.

iii. The extremists and their sponsors sought relief from their setbacks – as in 2013 – by dragging The United States into the quagmire of another endless, pointless and illegal foreign misadventure.

II. The government of Syria has no sarin gas; ISIS and Al Nusrah do.

III. The government of Syria was verifiably disarmed from all chemical arms by the UN; the armed groups were not.

Thus, extremist organizations, particularly Al-Nusrah and ISIS, were the4 only parties in possession of these weapons, with internationally documented track record of having used them- both in Iraq and Syria. They had a clear – and desperate – motive to use them, given that the tragedy in Khan Sheikhoun took place only days after the Trump administration publicly abandoned the U.S. policy of regime-change in Syria.

Under this circumstances, the U.S. military action against Syria on April 7 – without any UN verification or even indication of Syrian culpability—is a clear act of aggression against a sovereign member of the United Nations and a violation of the preemptory norms of international law. Practically, it only serves to send a disastrous signal to the terrorists: Repeat atrocities such as the one on April 4 and be rewarded with U.S. retaliation against the adversary.

The world is still paying for past unilateralism premised on self-serving allegations clearly found to have had no basis. The events of 2003 in particular have not been forgotten. Moreover, after six years of war, it is abundantly clear that claiming to want to fight ISIS and Al Nusrah while targeting their greatest adversary in Syria is disingenuous at best, and malignant at worst.

Thus, to prevent further military misadventures, the international community deserves an impartial inquiry to shed light on the horrific events of April 4.