Watchdog votes to curb chemical exports to Syria

The world's chemical weapons watchdog voted Thursday to curb chemical exports to Syria
Syrians walk through destruction in the town of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack, near Damascus, on Apr. 16, 2018. (Photo: AP/File)
Syrians walk through destruction in the town of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack, near Damascus, on Apr. 16, 2018. (Photo: AP/File)

The Hague, Netherlands (AFP) - The world's chemical weapons watchdog voted Thursday to curb chemical exports to Syria, accusing Damascus of violating its toxic arms control treaty.

Syria agreed in 2013 to join the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, shortly after an alleged chemical gas attack killed more than 1,400 people near Damascus.

But the global watchdog, based in The Hague, has since accused President Bashar al-Assad's regime of continuing to attack civilians with chemical weapons in the Middle Eastern country's brutal civil war.

Syria's OPCW voting rights were suspended in 2021, an unprecedented rebuke, following poison gas attacks on civilians in 2017.

Damascus has denied the allegations.

On Thursday, a majority of countries at the OPCW's annual meeting voted for "collective measures" to stop the transfer of certain chemicals and chemical-making technology to Syria.

These measures include beefing up export controls and preventing "the direct or indirect supply, sale, or transfer of chemical precursors and dual-use chemical manufacturing facilities and equipment and related technology," the resolution said.

Put forward by 48 countries including Britain, France, Germany and the United States, the resolution said Syria had caused "serious damage to the object and purpose of the Chemical Weapons Convention." 

It cited Syria's "continued possession and use of chemical weapons" and "its failures to submit an accurate and complete declaration and to destroy all its undeclared chemical weapons and production facilities." 

Syria's civil war broke out in 2011 after the government's repression of peaceful demonstrations escalated into a deadly conflict that pulled in foreign powers and global jihadists.

The war has killed more than half a million people and forced around half of the country's pre-war population from their homes.