- Title: Use of chemical weapons by Syrian government a certainty - French FM
- Date: 18th November 2016
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (NOVEMBER 18, 2016) (REUTERS) ****WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** FRENCH AND U.N FLAGS HANGING INSIDE NEWS CONFERENCE ROOM U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL, BAN KI-MOON, AND FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER, JEAN-MARC AYRAULT, ARRIVING AND WALKING UP PLATFORM JOURNALIST USING COMPUTER AYRAULT SPEAKING (SOUNBITE) (French) FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER, JEAN-MARC AYRAULT, SAYING: "For France it is essential that investigators can pursue their investigation on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. And you know that the first conclusions from investigators were damning. It is impossible to deny that the Syrian government repeatedly used chemical weapons in clear violation of international law and commitments it agreed to. Those responsible must now be held accountable." BAN KI-MOON AND AYRAULT ON STAGE BAN KI-MOON AND AYRAULT SHAKING HANDS BAN KI-MOON AND AYRAULT LEAVING THE NEWS CONFERENCE
- Embargoed: 3rd December 2016 14:01
- Keywords: Syria chemical weapons Ayrault Ban Ki Moon U.N. resolution
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Military Conflicts
- Reuters ID: LVA00158Z2R0N
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Nobody could deny the Syrian government's culpability on the use of chemical weapons, said French foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault on Friday (November 18) during a news conference alongside U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
"The first conclusions from investigators were damning. It is impossible to deny that the Syrian government repeatedly used chemical weapons in clear violation of international law and commitments it agreed to. Those responsible must now be held accountable," he said.
The U.N. Security Council approved on Thursday (November 17) a one-year extension of an international inquiry to determine blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria, paving the way for a showdown over how to punish those responsible.
The 15-member council unanimously adopted the U.S.-drafted resolution.
The inquiry by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, set up by the council a year ago, has already found that Syrian government forces were responsible for three chlorine gas attacks and that Islamic State militants had used mustard gas.
Syria's government has denied its forces had used chemical weapons during the country's nearly six-year-old civil war.
France, Britain, the United States and other council members have said that after the renewal of the inquiry on November 17, they hope to start negotiations on a draft resolution to punish those blamed for the attacks, likely with U.N. sanctions.
Ayrault told reporters on November 18 that a resolution needed to be brought to the council.
Last week, the OCPW's executive body voted to condemn the use of banned toxic agents by the Syrian government and Islamic State militants.
Chlorine's use as a weapon is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria joined in 2013. If inhaled, chlorine gas turns to hydrochloric acid in the lungs and can kill by burning lungs and drowning victims in the resulting body fluids.
Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013 under a deal brokered by Moscow and Washington. The Security Council backed that deal with a resolution that said in the event of non-compliance, "including unauthorized transfer of chemical weapons, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone" in Syria, it would impose measures under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter.
Chapter 7 deals with sanctions and authorization of military force by the Security Council. The body would need to adopt another resolution to impose targeted sanctions - a travel ban and asset freeze - on people or entities linked to the attacks.
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