Syria used chemical weapons: UN probers

Source:Reuters Published: 2017/9/6 22:28:39

Investigators say forces used them during country’s civil war


File photo: AFP


 
Syrian forces have used chemical weapons more than two dozen times during the country's civil war, including in April's deadly attack on Khan Sheikhoun, UN war crimes investigators said on Wednesday.

A government warplane dropped sarin on the town in Idlib province, killing more than 80 civilians, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said, in the most conclusive findings to date from investigations into chemical weapons attacks during the conflict.

The Commission also said US air strikes on a mosque in the village of Al-Jina in rural Aleppo in March that killed 38 people, including children, failed to take precautions in violation of international law.

The weapons used on Khan Sheikhoun were previously identified as containing sarin, an odorless nerve agent. But that conclusion, reached by a fact-finding mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), did not say who was responsible.

"Government forces continued the pattern of using chemical weapons against civilians in opposition-held areas. In the gravest incident, the Syrian air force used sarin in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, killing dozens, the majority of whom were women and children," the UN report said, declaring the attack a war crime.

In their 14th report since 2011, UN investigators said they had in all documented 33 chemical weapons attacks to date.

Twenty-seven were made by the government of President Bashar al-Assad, including seven between March 1 to July 7. Perpetrators had not been identified yet in six early attacks, they said.

The Assad government has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons. It said its strikes in Khan Sheikhoun hit a weapons depot belonging to rebel forces, a claim dismissed by the UN investigators.

That attack led US President Donald Trump to launch the first US air strikes on a Syrian air base.

A separate joint inquiry by the UN and OPCW aims to report by October on who was to blame for Khan Sheikhoun.

The UN investigators interviewed 43 witnesses, victims, and first responders linked to the attack. Satellite imagery, photos of bomb remnants and early warning reports were used.



Posted in: MID-EAST,WORLD FOCUS

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