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U.N. Report Confirms Chemical Weapons Were Used In Syria

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Chemical weapons were used in Syria's civil war, according to a team of international chemical weapons experts sent to investigate claims of chemical attacks.

"The United Nations Mission concludes that chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic," the inspectors say.

Their final report confirms some earlier allegations, citing "clear and convincing evidence" that the weapons were used against children and other civilians in Ghouta, near Damascus in August, and "credible information" that they were used against soldiers and civilians in Khan Al Asal in March.

Other findings were less certain, with the inspectors saying that there were signs of "probable use" of chemical weapons, or that the evidence was inconclusive.

The U.N. Office for Disarmament Affairs posted the 82-page final report of the inspections team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons today. It cites evidence that includes the results of tests conducted on samples taken from buildings in the area, as well as photographs of spent munitions.

Some of the devices appear to have been improvised, as was their delivery. One section describes munitions being dropped from a helicopter; another says a type of catapult was used.

Led by professor Ake Sellstrom, the inspections team submitted an initial report in September that led U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to express "profound shock and regret" at what he called "a war crime."

The inspectors had initially been tasked with examining 16 locations where the use of chemical weapons was suspected in 2013 and late 2012. Citing a lack of "sufficient or credible information" regarding nine sites, the inspectors determined they would investigate seven spots.

They weren't able to visit at least one of those locations, which "was still contested" by rebels and government forces, the inspectors said.

After receiving the report Thursday, the U.N. secretary-general said he plans to brief the General Assembly on Friday, and the Security Council on Monday.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Source: NPR

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