UN confirms Syria chemical attackAssociated Press . United Nations
Chemical weapons were probably used in four locations in Syria this year, in addition to the confirmed attack near Damascus in August that forced the government to abandon its secret chemical stockpile, UN inspectors have said.
In a report released Thursday, the experts, led by Swedish professor Ake Sellstrom, examined seven alleged chemical weapons attacks and said it lacked information to corroborate the allegations at two locations. The inspectors’ limited mandate barred them from identifying whether the government or opposition fighters were responsible for any of the attacks.
Thursday’s report said evidence indicated chemical weapons were probably used in Khan al Assal outside Aleppo, Jobar in Damascus’ eastern suburbs, Saraqueb near Idlib in the northwest, and Ashrafiah Sahnaya in the Damascus countryside. In two cases, it found ‘signatures of sarin.’
The government and opposition accused each other of using chemical weapons at Khan al Assal and the report said none of the parties in Syria denied their use in the village. The allegations of chemical weapons use at Jobar and Ashrafiah Sahnaya were made by the Syrian government, while Britain and France raised the allegations about Saraqueb.
In an initial report on September 16, Sellstrom’s team concluded that evidence collected in the Ghouta area of Damascus following an August 21 attack provided ‘clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used.’ Graphic video footage showed dozens of people gasping for air and bodies lined up and the US government said more than 1,400 people were killed.
The confirmed use of chemical weapons in Ghouta, and the threat of possible US military action, led to a US-Russian agreement to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons by mid-2014. The process of getting Syrian chemicals that can be used to make weapons out of the country is currently underway.
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