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Despite publicly dismantling his chemical weapons stockpiles, and despite repeated assurances from his Russian partners that he has long since stopped using deadly gas munitions, it appears Syrian president Bashar al-Assad continues to use chemical weapons against his people.
During the annual meeting of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the beleaguered ruler was accused by European and US diplomats of still holding large quantities of deadly chemical armaments, of concealing them from inspectors, and of employing them against opposition forces.
US envoy to the OPCW Rafael Foley said that “chemical weapons use is becoming routine in the Syrian civil war,” and that “the Syrian regime has continued to use chemical weapons on its own people.”
Jacek Bylica, the representative of the EU, said that it is “impossible to have confidence” that Syria has disposed of its chemical weapons stockpiles, with many “uncertainties regarding the dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons program, notably the gaps and contradictions contained in Syria’s declarations.”
President Assad is not the only one accused of using chemical weapons in the battles across the country. Human rights groups as well as international watchdogs have blamed ISIS for employing chemical weapons against Kurdish forces and civilians.
As we have previously reported, the OPCW has set up a special mission to investigate the various allegations, and to determine who is behind chemical attacks.
The OPCW says that 99 percent of the regime’s chemical weapons – 1,300 tons of materials – have been destroyed following agreement between Assad and world powers. These new allegations show that the destruction of the stockpiles was not as thorough as could have been hoped for.