Syria: UN Report Confirms Chemical Weapons Use Against Civilians

An UN report on Syria chemical weapon use is now out after several weeks of investigations. The report says that there is absolutely no doubt about banned weapons use in Syria “on a relatively large scale.” This confirms that sarin gas was put to use in several surface-to-surface rocket attacks that took place on August 21 in the suburbs of Damascus.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented the new report to the Security Council Monday morning. BBC reports that Ban says the report confirms “unequivocally and objectively” that the sarin gas attacks took place. He is calling on the rest of the UN Security Council to condemn “this despicable crime.”

The UN Secretary-General added that he believes the international community must respond and punish those who launched the August 21 attacks. Though the UN investigation report does not lay the blame for the attacks on either Syrian rebels or government forces, there are some possibly telling details.

In his presentation Ban details the investigation’s findings. He says that UN inspectors took a number of samples from both soil and victims that showed sarin gas use. Investigators also spoke to a number of witnesses and victims, mostly civilians. They described being shelled early in the morning. After the rockets had landed, a number of people began experiencing a number of effects, including shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, disorientation, and blurred vision. Many victims soon lost consciousness.

The report says that first responders to the scene found a number of bodies laying on the floor, many dead, according to CNN. It also says that the weather on that day maximized the effectiveness of the gas attacks. Pressure systems helped to push the gas toward the ground and into buildings. Many taking shelter from the gas were unable to find safety in shelters.

During his presentation of the new Syria UN report, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon added that while both sides in the conflict in Syria have committed war crimes, Assad’s government has crossed the line into committing “crimes against humanity.” Ban says that the UN is also actively investigating 14 alleged chemical weapon attacks in Syria over the last two years.

[Image via Thomas Hawk via photopin cc]