Saudi request

I have the honour to transmit to you a letter from Mr. Najib Ghadbian, Special Representative of the Syrian National Coalition to the United Nations, dated 16 August 2016 (see annex).

I would be grateful if you could circulate the present letter and its annex as a document of the Security Council.

(Signed) Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi
Permanent Representative

Letter of the High Committee of the negotiations of the Syrian National Coalition

On behalf of the High Negotiations Committee and as requested by His Excellency Riad Hijab, General Coordinator of the Committee, it is my honour to transmit to you a letter addressed to you from Mr. Hijab dated 16 August 2016 (see enclosure). The letter discusses the gravity of the chemical weapons attacks in the city of Aleppo.

(Signed) Najib Ghadbian
Special Representative of the Syrian National Coalition to the United Nations


I write to you in order to draw your attention to the horrific situation in besieged eastern Aleppo and to new reports that the forces of the Assad regime, with the support of their allies, the Russian air force and Iranian militias, have used chemical weapons to attack Aleppo, in direct violation of Security Council resolutions 2118 (2013), 2209 (2015) and 2235 (2015). In addition, napalm, which is internationally prohibited, was used against Darayya in Rif Dimashq on 12, 13 and 14 August 2016.

On 10 August 2016, civilian residents of the Zabdiyah neighbourhood of Aleppo were attacked with illegal chemical substances when regime helicopters dropped barrel bombs containing toxic material. Area hospitals treated 60 injured, 40 of whom were children. All the victims later exhibited signs consistent with exposure to chlorine gas, including choking, coughing and shortness of breath. It has been confirmed that at least three civilians, including a woman and her son, have died as a result of the chemical weapon attacks.

The deadly chemical weapon attack of 10 August on Aleppo is yet another episode in the regime’s chain of attacks against civilians in Aleppo. On the evening of 1 August, aid workers working with the Syrian Civil Defence reported that unguided bombs containing chlorine struck civilian homes in Saraqib, Idlib governorate, and injured at least 28 civilians, including 18 women and 10 children.

The use of chlorine gas as a weapon of war to terrorize and/or kill civilians is a war crime and a direct violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which Syria is a party, and of Security Council resolutions 2118 (2013), 2209 (2015) and 2235 (2015). In its resolution 2209 (2015), the Council specifically states that the use of chlorine gas as a weapon would constitute a violation of resolution 2118 (2013) and, in this context, it decided in the event of future non-compliance with resolution 2118 (2013) to impose measures under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. Measures must now be implemented pursuant to Chapter VII, and the Assad regime’s repeated and systematic use of chemical weapons must be met with sanctions in order to deter future war crimes, including the use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians.

On behalf of the people of Aleppo, Idlib and Darayya, and all of Syria, we call on the Security Council to:

1. Instruct the Joint Investigative Mechanism of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to investigate the attacks of 1 and 10 August on the city of Aleppo and the cities of Saraqib in Idlib and Darayya in Rif Dimashq, which killed four people and wounded dozens, and to present a preliminary analysis of its investigations to the Security Council at the next briefing on the humanitarian situation.

2. Impose measures pursuant to Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, as called for in Security Council resolutions 2118 (2013), 2209 (2015) and 2235 (2015), and take urgent action to protect Syrian civilians from additional attacks with chemical and internationally prohibited weapons, including the use of naval assets stationed in the Mediterranean Sea to impose a “no-bombardment” zone throughout Syria.

3. Ensure that those responsible for the use of chemical weapons, including chlorine gas, are held accountable, as required by Security Council resolutions 2118 (2013), 2209 (2015) and 2235 (2015). This can be accomplished either by creating a special court for Syria and/or by taking measures under local or international jurisdiction to be implemented by the Governments of Member States.

You must not allow the chemical weapons attacks in Aleppo, Idlib and Darayya to become another ignominious stain on the collective conscience of the Security Council. The Council and its member have a mandate to protect civilians from chemical weapon attacks, and the time has come for members to fulfil that mandate. To date, some 2,000 Syrian civilians have been killed by chemical attacks, while hundreds of thousands of other civilians have been killed by various other types of weapons. I ask you, how many Syrians must die before the members of the Security Council are forced to act? How many innocent Syrian children will choke to death from chlorine gas before you answer their calls to provide protection for civilians?

Syrian civilians need protection from chemical weapons and other internationally prohibited weapons and from all indiscriminate air strikes. A “no bombardment” zone is one possible way of providing that protection. I should like, through you, to urge the member States to impose such zone, despite the failure of the Security Council to carry out its mandate to protect civilians.

(Signed) Riad Hijab
General Coordinator
High Negotiations Committee of the Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces

Iranian answer

Upon instructions from my Government, and with reference to the letter dated 16 August 2016 from the Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/2016/719), requesting the circulation of the letter of an entity engaged in crimes and violence in Syria, I wish to bring the following to your attention:

That entity and its supporters, by accusing the Islamic Republic of Iran of supporting the use of chemical weapons and other prohibited weapons, insidiously intend to mislead the members of the United Nations. It is evident that Iran, as the last victim of the mass use of chemical weapons by Saddam Hussein’s regime, which committed such heinous crimes with the help and support of many, including certain countries in the region, and as a committed State party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, has always condemned the use of these weapons by anybody, anywhere, and has always declared its objection to such use.

The very act of submitting such baseless propaganda against a State Member of the United Nations by another State Member of the United Nations to be circulated as a United Nations document runs counter to the very purposes and principles of the United Nations, which consist of, inter alia, developing friendly relations among nations and peacefully resolving international disputes.

This act also amounts to misusing an established practice at the United Nations and employing it in the service of spreading lies and distorting facts, which can only serve shortsighted political interests and narrow agendas. This certainly aggravates, rather than eases, tensions and is contrary to the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.

As a member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and a victim of these weapons, the Islamic Republic of Iran has always warned against the use of these inhumane weapons by all, especially by terrorists, following the savagery and barbaric crimes perpetrated against the Syrian and Iraqi peoples by extremist groups and their supporters. It is imperative that all States Members of the United Nations adopt a responsible and serious approach to focus on the real challenges that jeopardize peace and security in our region.

I should be grateful if you would have the present letter circulated as a document of the Security Council.

(Signed) Gholamali Khoshroo
Permanent Representative

Sources : S/2016/719 and S/2016/781