1 of 2 | The United States and Canada on Monday marked the 10th anniversary of a chemical attack on civilians by the Syrian regime that killed hundreds near Damascus.
The United States has blamed the government of Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad (pictured greeting Syrian troops in Ghouta, in 2018) for the chemical attack in 2013. Photo by Syrian Arab News Agency for EPA-EFE
Aug. 21 (UPI) -- The governments of the United States and Canada on Monday marked the 10th anniversary of a chemical attack on civilians by the Syrian regime that killed hundreds near Damascus.
The United States has blamed the government of Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad for the chemical attack on Aug. 21, 2013, carried out during the Syrian Civil War, that killed 1,429 people, including at least 426 children.
The State Department says the Artillery and Missile Directorate of the Syrian Armed Forces, under the command of Assad, launched rockets carrying the nerve agent sarin, a deadly chemical, onto Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, which at the time was held by anti-Assad rebels.
Last year, the United States sanctioned three Syrian regime military officials involved in the airstrikes, namely Brig. Gen. Adnan Aboud Hilweh, Major Gen. Ghassan Ahmed Ghannam and Major Gen. Jawdat Saleebi Mawas.
Syrian human rights campaigners say a total of more than 1,500 people were killed and 11,000 injured in at least 200 chemical weapons attacks carried out by the Syrian regime between 2012 and 2019.
On Monday, the Biden administration again called attention to the "massacre."
"The Assad regime, backed by Russia, is hoping the world will forget the atrocities that have occurred in Syria. We will not," National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement.
"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," she said, adding that no child, "in Syria or anywhere else in the world, should live in fear of these heinous weapons."
Syria and Russia, she said, are "obstructing" the efforts of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to verify the full elimination of Syria's chemical weapons program and document violations of international law and human rights in the country.
Ottawa similarly marked a decade "since the atrocious attack in Ghouta" in a statement issued by Global Affairs Canada.
"The Syrian regime continues its flagrant disregard for its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and UN Security Council Resolution 2118 and refuses to take responsibility for its horrific crimes," the statement read.
"It has also repeatedly failed to submit a complete and accurate declaration of its chemical weapons program to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons."
The Syrian Network for Human Rights, based The Hague, Netherlands, observed the 10th anniversary of the Ghouta attack with a statement blasting Syria's "criminal regime," which, is still "protected by its impunity."
"Even though an entire decade has passed since that terrible day, time has not erased the memories of that barbaric and monstrous attack," the group said, noting that the Assad regime has "still not been held accountable for perpetrating such unimaginable evil."