UK & World News

  • 13 December 2013, 4:42

Syria Chemical Attacks Confirmed By Inspectors

Chemical weapons were "probably used" five times in the Syrian conflict between March and late August, UN inspectors have said.

The report examined seven alleged attacks and cites "credible evidence" and "evidence consistent with the probable use of chemical weapons" in the districts of Ghouta, Khan Al Asal, Jobar, Saraqueb and Ashrafieh Sahnaya.

The UN inspectors said they could not corroborate their use in two of the sites studied: Bahhariyeh and Sheik Maqsood.

The team of experts, led by Swedish professor Ake Sellstrom, said soldiers were targeted in two of the cases and soldiers and civilians in a third.

However, the report does not attribute blame for the attacks, as this was beyond the mandate given the team by the UN Security Council.

Syria's President Bashar al Assad has admitted his forces hold chemical weapons, and has vowed to surrender them to international experts, but insists his forces did not target civilians.

An initial report in September said there was "clear and convincing evidence" that rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used in an attack on August 21 which killed hundreds of people.

Graphic footage showed people gasping for air and bodies of dead children lined up.

That report concluded that banned chemical weapons had been used on a wide scale.

Mr Sellstrom has handed his final report on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The report was then sent to members of the UN Security Council. Mr Ban said he would address the 193-member General Assembly on Friday and the council on Monday about the report's findings.

"The United Nations Mission remains deeply concerned that chemical weapons were used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arabic Republic, which has added yet another dimension to the continued suffering of the Syrian people," the report said.

Under an international agreement brokered to avoid US military strikes on the Damascus regime, Syria's most dangerous chemical weapons have to be out of the country by a December 31 deadline.

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