UN report concludes chemical weapons used in Syria

UN report concludes chemical weapons used in Syria

UNITED NATIONS,United States - Chemical weapons have been used at least five times during the Syrian conflict and in some cases children have been slaughtered, according to a UN report released Thursday.

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.

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