There are several ways that the perpetrators of the chemical weapons attack in Syria could be held accountable. But reality is they aren't likely to face justice anytime soon, if ever.
When United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this week described the Aug. 21 sarin nerve gas attack in Syria as a “war crime,” it was an unambiguous call for prosecution of a universally recognized violation of international law.
“The international community has a responsibility to hold the perpetrators accountable and to ensure that chemical weapons never reemerge as an instrument of warfare,” Mr. Ban said.
But clarity on the politically fraught issue of prosecuting the perpetrators of the deadly chemical weapons attack ended there. Asked at a press conference Monday how that accountability should be delivered, Ban said, “I do not have a clear answer at this time.”
The UN weapons inspection team’s report issued this week on the August attack does not fix blame for the incident. But most security experts and many Security Council members – with the glaring exception of Russia – say the evidence in the report points unequivocally to the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad.
Still, the reality is that the perpetrators of the attack – which Ban described as the “most significant use of chemical weapons against civilians since Saddam Hussein used them in Halabja in 1988” – aren’t likely to face justice anytime soon, if ever.
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