Syrian government forces conducted coordinated chemical attacks in opposition-controlled parts of Aleppo during the final month of the battle for the city, the Human Rights Watch released a statement on Monday, February 13.
Through phone and in-person interviews with witnesses and analysis of video footage, photographs, and posts on social media, Human Rights Watch documented government helicopters dropping chlorine in residential areas on at least eight occasions between November 17 and December 13, 2016. The attacks, some of which included multiple munitions, killed at least nine civilians, including four children, and injured around 200.
According to the HRW, the attacks took place in areas where government forces planned to advance, starting in the east and moving westwards as the frontlines moved.
“The pattern of the chlorine attacks shows that they were coordinated with the overall military strategy for retaking Aleppo, not the work of a few rogue elements,” said Ole Solvang, deputy emergencies director at Human Rights Watch. “The United Nations Security Council shouldn’t let Syrian authorities or anyone else who has used chemical weapons get away without consequences.”
Human Rights Watch called on the Syrian government to immediately stop using chemicals as weapons and fully cooperate with the UN-appointed investigation.
The 192 state parties of the Chemical Weapons Convention should take steps to address Syria’s continued violation of the treaty’s most basic prohibitions and ensure compliance in order to bolster the customary international norm against chemical warfare, Human Rights Watch said.
The organization insists, the Security Council should impose sanctions on senior leaders in the chain of command.