Chemical weapons used in Syria – UN report

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CHEMICAL20131214UNITED NATIONS: Chemical weapons have been used at least five times during the Syrian conflict and in some cases children have been slaughtered, according to a United Nations (UN) report released on Thursday (Friday in Manila).

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The report cites “credible evidence” and “evidence consistent with the probable use of chemical weapons” in the Syrian sites of Ghouta, Khan Al Asal, Jobar, Saraqueb and Ashrafieh Sahnaya.

But the UN said it could not corroborate their use in two of seven sites studied—Bahhariyeh and Sheik Maqsood.

“The United Nations Mission concludes that chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic,” said the report, prepared by a team of experts led by Swede Ake Sellstrom.

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

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has admitted his forces hold chemical weapons, and has vowed to surrender them to international experts. But he insists his forces did not target civilians.

Western and Arab governments, human rights groups and Syrian rebels accuse the regime of carrying out the attacks. Assad and his allies in Moscow and Tehran blame the rebels.

Sellstrom, who led an investigative mission to Syria, had already provided a preliminary report to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on September 16.

That report concluded that banned chemical weapons had been used on a wide scale and that there was clear evidence that sarin gas was used in an attack in the Eastern Ghouta neighborhood near Damascus on August 21.

The final report said the mission “collected clear and convincing evidence that chemical weapons were used also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale” on that day in Ghouta.

“A number of patients/survivors were clearly diagnosed as intoxicated by an organophosphorous compound,” the report said.

“Blood and urine samples from the same patients were found positive for sarin and sarin signatures.”

The inspectors collected “credible information” corroborating allegations that chemical weapons were used in Khan Al Asal on March 19 against soldiers and civilians.

In Jobar, near Damascus, the inspectors “collected evidence consistent with the probable use of chemical weapons” there on “a relatively small scale against soldiers” on August 24.

But the report said it could not “establish the link between the victims, the alleged event and the alleged site” due to the “absence of primary information on the delivery system[s]and environmental samples collected and analyzed under the chain of custody.”

AFP

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