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PHR Alarmed by Repeated Reports of Chemical Attacks in Syria

For Immediate Release

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is alarmed by new reports of suspected chemical barrel bomb attacks in Syria, pointing to the fifth attack in 10 days, and calls on the United Nations Security Council to implement its own resolutions to stop indiscriminate attacks. PHR also welcomes reports of a new investigation into allegations from earlier in the month by the global chemical weapons regulatory body, which can provide the necessary scientific evidence to confirm these acts.

“The UN Security Council must go beyond condemnation of chemical weapons. It can start by ensuring investigators get full, unfettered access to the areas allegedly attacked,” said Donna McKay, PHR’s executive director. “When there are no consequences for Assad’s outrageous attacks on his own people, it allows further atrocities to take place. Syrians are dying because the Security Council is failing to enforce its own pledge calling for an end to strikes on civilians.”

Following a chemical attack in 2013, the Syrian government agreed to dispose of its chemical weapons. Independent experts have confirmed that since then, chlorine or a similar toxic agent has been deployed in the country in at least three instances. Chemical weapons cause widespread death and permanent injury. Once released, these difficult-to-control poisons kill indiscriminately, recognizing neither uniform nor flag. Infants, the elderly, and the chronically ill are particularly vulnerable.

On March 11, PHR released a report detailing four years of deliberate and indiscriminate attacks that have targeted health professionals and medical facilities in Syria – mainly by the Syrian government – including the killing of 610 medical professionals and 233 attacks on 183 medical facilities. PHR has previously called on the Security Council to refer the Syrian crisis to the International Criminal Court so that perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity would be held accountable.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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Kevin Short

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