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UN report confirms chemical weapons were used in Syria attacks

UN report confirms chemical weapons were used in Syria attacks

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As expected, United Nations inspectors have reported that chemical weapons were used in an August 21st attack near Damascus, Syria. According to a report released today, the inspectors found "clear and convincing" evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve gas sarin were used in the attacks, and that chemical weapons had been used "against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale."

The inspectors visited the region in last August, conducting interviews with survivors, assessing their symptoms, and collecting various medical and environmental samples as part of the investigation. The New York Times reports that UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon addressed the findings in a news conference earlier today. "The report makes for chilling reading," he said. "The findings are beyond doubt and beyond the pale. This is a war crime."

Word leaked about the findings last week, though it wasn't clear if the report would specifically lay blame at the feet of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The report itself does not — it simply states that "chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic" — and UN Secretary-General Ki-moon declined to accuse Assad as well. Other officials had no such qualms, however. According to the Los Angeles Times, US Ambassador Samantha Power told reporters that "the technical details of the United Nations report make clear that only the [Assad] regime could have carried out this large-scale chemical weapons attack."