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Updated On: Tuesday, November 21 2017

Commission on Syria Reports to Security Council

Content by: South-South News

24 April 2017, New York, USA | South-South News — The Head of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Syria, Paulo Pinheiro warned of a “slow motion” disaster in Idlib adding the Commission feared the evacuees being concentrated there were “at serious risk about their lives.”

Speaking to reporters following a closed door meeting of the Security Council, Pinheiro told reporters on April 21 that parties to the conflict “more often than not … use military tactics that directly target civilians as a way to gain military advantage.” All parties committed violations during and after the siege in Aleppo which led to an evacuation agreement that emptied the eastern part of the city of its population. He said while the siege of Aleppo was over, the repercussions were still being felt all over Syria. Pinheiro noted that several evacuation agreements after Aleppo led to the transfer of tens of thousands to Idlib. He added, “We have the impression that we are seeing in a slow motion something that will happen, a disaster that will happen in Idlib.”

Pinheiro said the COI documented the use of chlorine as a weapon in its last two reports and was investigating the alleged use of Sarin in the 4th April attack on Khan Sheikhoun. He said so far the COI has concluded that a series of airstrikes targeting the area coincided with the release of a chemical agent, likely sarin or sarin-like, killing 100 people, and a second strike a few hours later impacted a medical facility in the same area. He noted that the Commission was investigating all avenues and exploring all theories regarding the release of the agent, but stressed that they were “also conscience that the majority of the victims of this conflict have not perished because of chemical weapons attacks but by conventional arms.”

Asked if the COI was investigating the recent bus bombing, Pinheiro replied that it in fact was, but he did not give any specific information and COI member Karen AbuZayd added, “but we think it’s exaggerated.”

Asked about a mechanism to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria if the Security Council fails to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC), AbuZayd said the information gathered by the COI would be handed to the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM). She said the Commission was waiting to have some contact with the IIIM, but it gave them “some hope that things will be moving forward towards some kind of a [prosecutorial] mechanism.”

The IIIM was set up was set up in a General Assembly resolution adopted in December to assist in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the most serious crimes under international law committed in Syria since March 2011. Pinheiro said the COI would be ready to hand a list of possible war criminals to the Mechanism when asked, but until then the list would remain confidential. He said he did not see an added value of making the list public adding that it was “in a safe with two keys” and hadn’t been seen even by the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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