Statement on the Announcement of U.S. Sanctions against Syrian Officials in Connection with UN Findings of the Regime’s Use of Chemical Weapons on Civilians

Ambassador Samantha Power
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
January 12, 2017


In reports released in August and October 2016, the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), which was created unanimously by the UNSC, determined that the Syrian Arab Armed Forces used chemical weapons in three incidents from 2014-2015. The Syrian government’s forces did this through the deplorable practice of dropping barrel bombs from helicopters that released toxic chemicals onto innocent civilians, killing and injuring countless people.

The confirmed use of chemical weapons by a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention is a serious breach of the Convention and of Security Council Resolution 2118. Failure to respond to chemical weapons use would severely threaten the global nonproliferation architecture and would leave those who would commit such barbaric actions with a sense of impunity for some of the worst atrocities imaginable.

Today, the United States designated or identified 24 individuals and institutions in response to the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons. While their names may be unfamiliar, their brutality is infamous, so they should be as well.

The individuals are:

  • Syrian Air Force Intelligence Colonel Suhayl Hasan al-Hasan
  • Syrian Air Force Intelligence Colonel Muhammad Nafi Bilal
  • Political Security Directorate Chief Major General Muhammad Khalid Rahmun
  • Brigadier General Yasin Ahmad Dahi
  • Syrian Military Intelligence Director Major General Muhammad Mahmud Mahalla
  • Syrian Air Force and Air Defense Forces Commander Major General Ahmad Ballul
  • Major General Saji Jamil Darwish
  • Brigadier General Badi’ Mualla
  • Major General Talal Shafiq Makhluf
  • Brigadier General Muhammad Ibrahim
  • Major General Rafiq Shihadah
  • Brigadier General Ghassan Abbas
  • Brigadier General Ali Wanus
  • Brigadier General Samir Dabul
  • Colonel Zuhayr Haydar
  • Colonel Habib Hawrani
  • Colonel Firas Ahmad
  • Bayan Bitar

The entities are:

  • The Syrian Arab Air Force
  • The Syrian Arab Air Defense Forces
  • The Syrian Arab Army
  • The Syrian Arab Navy
  • The Syrian Arab Republican Guard
  • The Organization for Technological Industries

In a more just world, the same UN Security Council that created the JIM would have already responded to its conclusions by voting swiftly and unanimously to hold these people and institutions accountable, and they would already face investigation and prosecution by an independent and impartial tribunal.

Until the Security Council holds accountable those responsible for using chemical weapons in Syria, the United States and partners will take up this cause and ensure the end of impunity for those who have gassed their own citizens. We again call on Russia and Iran, whose governments operate in close partnership with the Syrian government, to do far more to stop these monstrous practices and to support long overdue accountability for actions the world was united in outlawing.

The JIM also found that ISIL was responsible for the use of chemical weapons in one case. We obviously condemn the use of chemical weapons by ISIL as strongly as we condemn the uses by the Syrian regime. The Security Council has already imposed comprehensive sanctions on ISIL and its associates, and ISIL’s atrocities – chemical weapons use among them – are one of many reasons the United States leads a 68-nation coalition that will defeat this terrorist menace.

With today’s designations, the world now knows the names of 24 more individuals and entities involved in chemical weapons attacks in Syria. While they are not yet facing the courtroom justice they deserve, today’s action is an important step. We encourage countries that agree impunity is unacceptable to take their own measures to hold accountable the 24 people and institutions involved in these grotesque actions.