Chemical weapons allegedly used 45 times in Syria: OPCW chief

OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu speaks during a ceremony marking the OPCW's 20th anniversary in The Hague, Netherlands, in this photo taken on April 26, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 29 April 2017

Chemical weapons allegedly used 45 times in Syria: OPCW chief

THE HAGUE: Experts from the world’s watchdog tasked with destroying chemical weapons are probing reports that toxic arms have been used 45 times in Syria since late last year, the body’s chief said Friday.
Ahmet Uzumcu, its director general, said there was “a huge list of allegations” of the use of toxic arms reported to the operations hub of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
In the “second part of 2016, 30 different incidents, and since the beginning of this year, 15 separate incidents, so 45,” he told a reporters, brandishing a list of several pages which he chose to keep confidential.
They include the April 4 sarin gas attack on the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhun. “All these allegations are recorded by our experts, who follow this every day from our operations center,” Uzumcu said.
“The mission, if it goes ahead, will not be an easy one. The Syrian regime had enough time to erase whatever traces were left (of the chemical attack). It will have time to do that until the watchdog arrives in Syria,” Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international relations expert, told Arab News on Friday.
“The regime has been condemned for using chemical weapons against civilians, and this was proven by the British and the French, who conducted tests on samples taken from the victims. The question is, will there be any accountability based on the results of the new mission,” Al-Shehri added.
The OPCW is currently trying to ensure it is safe enough to deploy its fact-finding team to the town for further analysis, after Uzumcu said last week that “incontrovertible” test results from OPCW-designated labs on samples taken from victims showed sarin gas or a similar substance had been used.
The regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad has “already stated that it would support this mission, actually it has invited us to go via Damascus,” he said.
“The problem is that this area is controlled by different armed opposition groups, so we need to strike some deals with them to ensure a temporary cease-fire, which we understand the Syrian government is willing to do,” he added.
“If we can put all this together then we will deploy. The team is ready, and we have the volunteers.”
However, it is not yet mandated to also visit the Shayrat air base in the central Syrian province of Homs.
The base was the target of a US strike launched in the wake of the Khan Sheikhun attack, and Russia has called for the allegations that it was stocking chemical weapons to be investigated.
Uzumcu also confirmed that the OPCW, based in The Hague, believed Daesh terrorists had used “sulfur mustard” near Iraq’s second city of Mosul last week.
The Iraqi military said some security personnel were injured in the April 15 attack as part of the operation to recapture Mosul.
— With input from AP, AFP


Kim Kardashian slams Turkey for fueling Azerbaijan conflict with Armenia

Updated 28 September 2020

Kim Kardashian slams Turkey for fueling Azerbaijan conflict with Armenia

  • Kardashian West called for an end to “all offensive uses of force” against Armenians

LONDON: Kim Kardashian West has condemned Azerbaijan over fighting with Armenian forces in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The reality TV star criticized Turkey’s involvement, accusing Ankara of ending arms and fighters to help the Azeris.
Kardashian West, who is of Armenian decent, called for an end to “all offensive uses of force” against Armenians. 
The TV reality star called for cutting all forms of US military aid to the Baku government that she said is being used against Armenians. 
She also criticized the Turkish involvement in the crisis, calling upon Turkey to stop sending arms and fighters in support for Baku fighters.  

The actress has in the past repeatedly expressed her pride in her Armenian ancestry. She visited the country in 2019 with her children, and has brought up the topic of the Armenian genocide to White House officials. 
Heavy fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh region flared up on Sunday and has killed dozens of fighters and several civilians. The area lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenians since 1994.
Armenia accused Azerbaijan of carrying out military strikes on the area. 
The Armenian government declared martial law and called for a total military mobilization in response to the escalating clashes.
The Armenian parliament also accused Turkey for getting involved in the crisis and warned the escalation could pose a threat to regional and global stability.