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Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic

UN Syria Commission Condemns Khan Shikhoun Attack

Geneva, 4 April 2017 --The Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic condemns in the strongest terms the attacks on the town of Khan Shikhoun in southern Idlib today which reportedly killed scores of civilians.  Preliminary information indicates a number of civilian casualties, including children.  

Reports suggesting that this was a chemical weapons attack are extremely concerning. The Commission is currently investigating the circumstances surrounding this attack including the alleged use of chemical weapons and reports of a subsequent attack on a medical facility where a number of injured persons were receiving treatment.

Both the use of chemical weapons, as well as the deliberate targeting of medical facilities, would amount to war crimes and serious violations of human rights law. The Commission notes that the UN Security Council has passed resolutions specifically designed to investigate instances in which the use of chemical weapons has been alleged and to identify perpetrators.

In that respect, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons' fact-finding mission currently operating inside the Syrian Arab Republic and the independent Joint Investigative Mechanism should be given full support to investigate these incidents, in addition to the Commission of Inquiry.  It is imperative for perpetrators of such attacks to be identified and held accountable.  

The Commission would like to extend its heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured. 

ENDS

The Commission of Inquiry on Syria was established by the Human Rights Council in August 2011 to investigate and record all violations of international human rights law and allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Commission is also tasked to identify, where possible, those responsible for these violations with a view to ensuring that perpetrators are held accountable.

The Commission comprises of Mr. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro (Chair), Ms. Karen Koning AbuZayd and Ms. Carla del Ponte.

Additional information about the Commission of Inquiry and links to all available reports can be found on their website:

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/IICISyria/Pages/IndependentInternationalCommission.aspx

Media contact: (Geneva) Rolando Gómez, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Tel: +41-22-917.9711, email: rgomez@ohchr.org