Syria chemical attack images 'still haunt us to this day': US

Syria chemical attack images 'still haunt us to this day': US

Syrian regime, Russia 'hoping the world will forget the atrocities that have occurred in Syria. We will not': White House

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - The images of a chemical attack on a formerly rebel-held Damascus suburb "still haunt us to this day," the White House said Monday as it marked the 10-year anniversary of the eastern Ghouta attack.

"The horrifying images from that early morning still haunt us to this day, and they drive this Administration’s efforts to rid the world of chemical weapons and to secure a safer future for all Syrians," National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement.

"The Assad regime, backed by Russia, is hoping the world will forget the atrocities that have occurred in Syria. We will not. Syria and Russia must comply with their international obligations and stop obstructing the work of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons," added Watson.

Estimates of the death toll from the horrific 2013 attack outside of the Syrian capital vary significantly, but the UN found “clear and convincing evidence” that surface-to-surface rockets containing sarin gas were launched on eastern Ghouta with devastating effects.

Images of the aftermath showed people who survived the initial strikes struggling to breathe, many foaming at the mouth and convulsing, as medics attempted to help as many victims as possible in eastern Ghouta, which lies roughly 6 miles (10 kilometers) east of the Syrian capital.

The Syrian regime signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in October 2013, two months after the chemical attack on the opposition-held Damascus suburb.

But a decade later, the regime has yet to fulfill its pledge to disclose to the UN's chemical weapons watchdog the scope and activities of its chemical program, Adedeji Ebo, the UN's deputy to the high representative for disarmament affairs, told the Security Council on Aug. 8.

That includes an explanation of its activities at the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, an organization accused of leading the regime's development of non-conventional weapons, and a declaration of nerve agents at another site at which the regime denies producing chemical weapons, said Ebo.

"Full cooperation by the Syrian Arab Republic with the OPCW technical secretariat is essential in closing all outstanding issues, considering the identified gaps, inconsistencies, and discrepancies that remain unresolved at this time," he said, referring to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

"The OPCW technical secretariat assesses that the declaration submitted by the Syrian Arab Republic still cannot be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention," he added.

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