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Nagorno Karabakh and Syria: White Phosphorus

Question for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

UIN HL6924, tabled on 14 March 2022

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken in response to reports of white phosphorus being used against civilian populations in (1) northern Syria, and (2) Nagorno-Karabakh; and whether they are treating both incidents as potential war crimes under the Geneva Convention.

Answered on

28 March 2022

HMG is aware of unconfirmed reports of use of white phosphorus in northern Syria and during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. White phosphorus is not classed as a chemical weapon. However, the targeting of civilians or indiscriminate use of any weapons is against International Humanitarian Law.

Her Majesty's Government strongly supports efforts to pursue accountability for the most serious crimes committed in Syria, including through bodies such as the UN Commission of Inquiry and the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism. These bodies were established with the express purpose of enquiring into and investigating potential war crimes. It would be inappropriate for the UK to cut across their efforts. We continue to encourage the Armenian and Azerbaijani Governments, including through our Embassies in Yerevan and Baku, to thoroughly investigate all allegations of war crimes and serious human rights violations during and after the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.