India has called for a peaceful resolution of the Syrian crisis

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India attaches the utmost importance to the complete destruction and elimination of chemical weapons world-wide and had called on the international community to “ensure the safe and secure custody of chemical weapons stockpiles.” India has called for a peaceful resolution of the Syrian crisis and decisive action against the terrorist groups who threaten peace and stability in the West Asian region as well as the world. Undoubtedly, the continued use of chemical weapons on unarmed civilians cannot be justified. The humanitarian cost paid by the Syria people has been huge. The people of Syria have been suffering because of the lack of decisive action by the international community. It is time for the United Nations and other agencies to take responsibility and start working towards preventing further deterioration of the catastrophe.

The Syrian civil war has proved to be one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in modern history. Since the Arab Spring protests turned violent in March 2011, an estimated 250,000 people have been killed in Syria including 100,000 civilians, women and children. Several instances of chemical attacks on military and civilian targets have been reported and this has added to the casualties. In the latest episode, two instances of use of chemical weapons have been reported in the besieged city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta this month. The city is currently under the control of Jaish al-Islam, one of the opposition Islamist groups, and is under severe attack from the Syrian forces since February 2018 to take control of the area.

According to media reports, two bombs with toxic chemical substances were dropped on Douma by Syrian regime forces in quick succession leading to the killing of more than 40 civilians. This is the first instance of use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime since the US strikes on Syrian air force base in Shayrat outside Homs in April 2017 in response to the use of Sarin gas in an attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province. At that time it was expected that the US response will deter the Syrian forces from carrying out chemical attacks on besieged civilians in rebel held areas. However, with the latest incident, this has been proved wrong.

The international response so far has been limited to condemnation and denials. The Trump administration has stated that it is taking stock of the situation and will take appropriate action in due course. Russia, on the other hand, has warned the US of repercussions if it decides to target regime forces in Syria. One of the major reasons for international inaction in Syria has been the geopolitical game being played out by both global and regional powers. The US and Syria are directly involved in the Syrian crisis. Though they have coordinated and cooperated in the fight against the ISIS, they are supporting opposing forces in the fight for Syria’s future. Regional countries such as Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia too are involved and are backing antagonistic parties. Lately, the Syrian regime has gained an upper hand with Russia’s help as they have been able to take back nearly 60 percent of the opposition held territories.

Tensions and war of words between US and Russia is on amidst the military built up in the Mediterranean. Efforts to reach a consensus in the United Nations Security Council for a concerted international response have failed. Russia vetoed the US resolution for a new independent mechanism for investigating the chemical weapons usage in Syria. Russia alternatively proposed another mechanism for investigation into the war crimes but could not elicit support in the UNSC. In the meanwhile, reports of the US, UK and France preparing for a military strike in Syria suggests serious escalation of the crisis. While the global powers engage in rhetoric and prepare for a response, it is the people of Syria who are paying a heavy price.

India being signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, has taken a principled position of condemning the use of chemical weapons against civilian targets. In March 2013, when the first case of use of chemical weapons in Syria had come to light, the Indian External Affairs Ministry had stated that India “noted with concern reports regarding alleged use of chemical weapons” in Syria.

India attaches the utmost importance to the complete destruction and elimination of chemical weapons world-wide and had called on the international community to “ensure the safe and secure custody of chemical weapons stockpiles.” India has called for a peaceful resolution of the Syrian crisis and decisive action against the terrorist groups who threaten peace and stability in the West Asian region as well as the world.

Undoubtedly, the continued use of chemical weapons on unarmed civilians cannot be justified. The humanitarian cost paid by the Syria people has been huge. The people of Syria have been suffering because of the lack of decisive action by the international community. It is time for the United Nations and other agencies to take responsibility and start working towards preventing further deterioration of the catastrophe.

Source: http://airworldservice.org/english/archives/69524

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