Russia is appeasing the Syrian regimes’ use of chemical weapons. The latest evidence for this is that it has vetoed the United Nations Security Council resolution to extend the Joint Investigation Mechanism to identify perpetrators of such weapons.

This was cynical enough, but even more so when you know that the Organisation for the Prohibition (OPCW) on the use of Chemical Weapons is about to publish its findings on the deadly Sarin attack on Kan Sheikum in Syria last April. Up to 100 people, mainly women and children, were killed and undoubtedly the Syrian Regime is to blame.  The US had enough intelligence to destroy the aircraft which dropped the deadly weapons 2 days later.

The use of chemical weapons has kept President Assad in power since the killing of 1500 people in East Ghouta in August 2013. Many observers believed Assad was about to fall but that the attack shored up the regime.

Damascus went on to use chemical weapons against ISIS to successfully defend Deir Ezzor from 2014 to the present.  ISIS leaders, impressed with its use, employed it many times to defend Mosul and Raqqa and their Jihadists around the globe appear likely to try and use it in further planned atrocities.

The psychological terror of chemical weapons cannot be overstated.  I’ve been gassed with the Peshmerga by ISIS in N Iraq and seen very brave soldiers petrified.  In the awfulness of Aleppo last year with thousands dead, I’ve

Cloud from suspected chlorine bomb near Tikrit. Mar 2016

had doctors tell me ‘we can hide from bombs and bullets but not gas, help us protect ourselves!’  ISIS operatives in Australia recently tried to get the deadly Hydrogen Sulphide onto an airliner which might have killed all on board.  A chemical attack on London, Paris, New York or Moscow would have an impact beyond comprehension.  2016 saw the most frequent use of chemical weapons in a century.

In April 2014, I investigated a chlorine attack in Talmenes in Syria and published the results 5 days later.  The UN report, using much of the same evidence followed 18 months later. It has taken the OPCW 6 months to produce the results of the Kan Sheikum attack and in this time the memory of the suffering is diminished.  This cannot be right in 2017, where social media relays real time news of attacks and tragedies.  We must speed up this process if the UN and its investigative bodies are going to be trusted and remain relevant.

The Russian veto has the potential to let the perpetrators of these heinous crimes off the hook and gives open season to all terrorists and despots to use Chemical, Biological and Nuclear weapons in the knowledge that the UN and Security Council are unlikely to bring them to book.

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