Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic was set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council on 22 August 2011 to investigate human rights violations during the Syrian Civil War. At its inception the Inquiry's Commissioners were Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro and Karen Koning AbuZayd. Since September 2012 the Inquiry's Commissioners have been Carla del Ponte and Vitit Muntarbhorn. The Commission posts regular updates via its official Twitter page.
The inquiry's investigations have included the Houla massacre, on which it concluded on 26 June 2012 that "with the available evidence" it could not rule out any of three possible perpetrators (Syrian Government forces, anti-Government forces, and foreign groups), although it considered anti-Government forces "unlikely" to have been the perpetrators due to their difficulty in accessing one of the sites in question against the superior firepower of government forces in the area.
Chemical weapons use in Syria
On 5 May 2013 Carla del Ponte accused the Syrian rebels of using chemical weapons, a view of Syrian opposition chemical weapons capability diametrically opposed by the majority of Western government officials. She stated, "We still have to deepen our investigation, verify and confirm (the findings) through new witness testimony, but according to what we have established so far, it is at the moment opponents of the regime who are using sarin gas."
On 6 May 2013, in an apparent reaction to Del Ponte’ comments the Commission issued a press release clarifying that it “has not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties in the conflict”.
In June 2013, the Commission reported that there was reason to believe that "limited quantities of toxic chemicals" had been used in the Khan al-Assal attack, but that it was not then in a position "to determine the precise chemical agents used, their delivery systems or the perpetrator".
On 5 March 2014, the "Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic" (dated 12 February) published a report that stated that the chemical agents used in the Khan-al-Assal bore "the same unique hallmarks as those used in Al-Ghouta" in the August 2013 chemical attack. The report also indicated, based on "evidence available concerning the nature, quality and quantity of the agents used" that the perpetrators of the Al-Ghouta attack "likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military". In none of the incidents, however, was the commission’s "evidentiary threshold" met in regards to identifying the perpetrators of the chemical attacks.
- United Nations Mission to Investigate Alleged Uses of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic
- Use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war
- Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic
- Official Twitter page of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic
- 26 June 2012, Oral Update of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic
- The Telegraph, May 06, 2013, "UN accuses Syrian rebels of chemical weapons use"
- Los Angeles Times, May 06, 2013, "U.N.'s Carla del Ponte say Syrian Rebels May Have Used Sarin"
- BBC, 9 July 2013, Russia claims Syria rebels used sarin at Khan al-Assal
- U.N report A-HRC-25-65 Reuters, 5 March 2014