Attribution of responsibility for the use of chemical weapons in Syria – Switzerland's position

Press release, 09.04.2020

Switzerland has taken note of the first report of the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is responsible for identifying the perpetrators in three instances where chemical weapons were used in the Syrian conflict. Switzerland strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons and demands that those responsible for all violations of international law in Syria be held to account.

In its first report, the IIT presents its findings on the investigation of three incidents where chemical weapons were used in the town of Ltamenah. The report, published on 8 April 2020, concludes that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the perpetrators of the use of sarin in Ltamenah on 24 and 30 March 2017, and the use of chlorine on 25 March 2017 were individuals belonging to the Syrian Arab Air Force. The IIT will continue its investigations and look into other incidents in Syria.

Switzerland condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons in Syria. All parties to the conflict are prohibited from using such weapons at all times and under all circumstances. Switzerland therefore calls on all warring parties in Syria to respect international law. It is now up to the OPCW's political organs and the UN Security Council to take such steps as they deem necessary. Switzerland calls on the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court and to take further action to curb the pervasive climate of impunity for the most serious crimes and ensure the civilian population and other victims of war are protected.

Establishing the facts is of crucial importance to prevent future attacks and ensure that serious crimes of this nature do not go unpunished. The IIT receives political and financial support from many OPCW member states, including Switzerland. Switzerland also supports other international efforts aimed at documenting these and other violations of international law by all parties involved and bringing those responsible to account. These include UN mechanisms such as the 'International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria' and activities undertaken by Syrian NGOs.

Switzerland will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the people affected by the conflict in Syria as well as to neighbouring countries which have taken in the majority of those displaced. In addition, it will continue to offer its good offices to facilitate a lasting peace in Syria. A key element of this is its support for the UN peace process in Geneva.


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Publisher:

Federal Department of Foreign Affairs