6 Years Since the Chemical Attack on Khan Shaykhun; Still No Accountability or Justice for the Victims

Six years have passed since the sarin gas massacre committed by the Assad regime against civilians in Khan Shaykhun, in the city of Idlib, on April 4th, 2017. Yet, the Assad regime is still not held accountable. In this massacre, more than 100 people were killed, primarily children, and nearly 500 were injured by the effects of the poisonous gas, mainly women and children.


OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) confirmed in its report that was issued on October 27th, 2017, the responsibility of the Assad regime for carrying out the chemical attack in the town of Khan Shaykhun. In addition, JIM confirmed that on April 4th, 2017, people in Khan Shaykhun, Idlib countryside, were exposed to sarin gas, classified as a chemical weapon.


The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic documented the responsibility of the Syrian regime for the attack. At the same time, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons proved the use of chemical weapons in Khan Shaykhun without specifying the responsible party. In its turn, the Joint Investigation Mechanism (JIM) established by Security Council Resolution No. 2235, issued in August 2015, proved that the Syrian regime was responsible for the Khan Shaykhun attack only. It is worth mentioning that Russia had terminated the mandate of the JIM through its veto prior to the Douma attack with chemical weapons.


International reactions did not go beyond statements rejecting the use of chemical weapons, interspersed with a shy response of the United States of America by targeting the Shayrat Airbase from which the planes that attacked Khan Shaykhun were launched.


The town of Khan Shaykhun, located in the south of Idlib governorate, came under the control of the opposition forces in 2014 and was declared, in addition to the entire Idlib governorate, by Turkey, Russia and Iran, a de-escalation zone, following a tripartite meeting held in the Kazakh capital Astana (currently Nur-Sultan) on the 4th and 5th of May, 2017.

With Russian help, the Assad regime regained control over the city in August 2019. As a result, all its residents were forced to evacuate the city, fearing retaliation from the Assad regime and the continuation of its massacres against them.

To this day, the international community is still unable to take any measure to hold those responsible for the Assad regime accountable for this heinous crime. Justice still collides with the Russian veto, the official sponsor of Assad’s terrorism and his criminal machine.