UN Security Council meets on Friday to attempt to agree on a response to the continued use of chemical weapons in Syria
United Nations Security Council members were moved to tears on Thursday asSyrian doctors described their desperate attempts to save dying children from recent chemical attacks, prompting renewed calls for accountability.
Dr Mohamed Tennari spent several months treating victims after a series of barrel bombs filled with chlorine were dropped across towns and villages in the country’s northern province of Idlib in March.
He showed a video of a suspected chlorine attack on March 16 in his town of Sarmin, with images of three children, aged one, two and three, dying despite attempts to resuscitate them. The medical area was so cramped that one of the children was lying on top of their grandmother, who also died.
“Everyone smelled bleach-like odours” hanging in the air and the sound of helicopters was everywhere, Dr Tennari later told reporters. He said most of thevictims were women and children.
Dr Tennari was helped out of Syria by the US government to brief UNSC members in a closed-door session.
Zaher Sahloul, who leads the Syrian American Medical Society and who was present at the closed door meeting on Thursday, said that most members of the 15-strong council mentioned the need for accountability for the attacks, with the exceptions of Russia, China and Venezuela.
He said every council member was affected by the video and briefing, and “some of them cried”.
“What we’ve done today is brought individuals who can testify to what happened, brought the facts to the council in as rapid and moving a way as we could do,” US Ambassador Samantha Power told reporters. “And it is now, in our view, incumbent on the council to go further than we have been able to come to this point, to get past the old divisions.”
The Security Council failed last year to refer the civil war in Syria, now in its fifth year, to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Syrian ally Russia, backed by China, vetoed the move.
On Friday Dr Tennari will meet with Russia’s UN delegation.
The US and other council members have repeatedly blamed the Syrian government for the chlorine gas attacks, saying no other party in the four-year civil war has helicopters to deliver the toxic chemicals.
One proposal is to impose a limited no fly zone over Idlib, that would stop helicopters flying in the area.
“This would be with a limited time frame of four to five weeks,” said Hamish De Bretton Gordon, former colonel and chemical weapons specialist for the British military. “It could be patrolled from a ship off the coast, and US-coalition who are already in the air in the region fighting the Islamic State.”
The no-fly zone against helicopters would also stop the regime from dropping “barrel bombs” – metal cylinders filled with explosives, that are illegal in international law and have caused tens of thousands of civilian deaths in the conflict.
The council last month approved a resolution condemning the use of toxic chemicals in Syria and threatening action against any violations, but the UN’s most powerful body seems stuck because there is no way to formally assign blame for attacks.
It found rare agreement on Syria only in the fall of 2013 to order the removal and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, but chlorine was not declared as a chemical weapon. The chemical does not have to be declared because it is also used for regular purposes in industry.
Mr Bretton Gordon said: “This would be a no-fly zone of limited scope. The Islamic State is not present in Idlib, so Assad cannot say it would be stopping his fight with them.”
source:The Telegraph / BBC NEWS /YouTube