09/16/2013, 00.00
UN - US- RUSSIA - SYRIA
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UN confirms chemical weapons used in Syria

Ban Ki-moon receives long-awaited report, which contains "convincing evidence" from "environmental, chemical and medical samples". However, those responsible for the attack are not yet known. Washington and Moscow remain at loggerheads as sources within the US defence community say rebels were behind the Ghouta massacre.

New York City (AsiaNews) - There is "convincing evidence" that sarin gas was used in a rocket attack on 21 August in the Ghouta area in the Syrian capital, Damascus, last month, a UN report is to confirm. However, the UN investigators who carried out the inquiry in Syria said they are still unsure about 14 other alleged chemical attacks that occurred in the country since September 2011. Chief UN chemical weapons investigator Ake Sellstrom handed over the report today to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The report found that "environmental, chemical and medical samples we have collected provide clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used [. . .] The conclusion is that chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic [. . .] against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale".

Mr Ban is scheduled to brief the Security Council on the report and is then expected to address the media.

In the meantime, the controversy over how to deal with the situation continues. US President Barack Obama told ABC's 'This Week' that he told Putin "that we both have an interest in preventing chaos, we both have an interest in preventing terrorism. [. . .] As long as Mr Assad's in power, there is going to be some sort of conflict there".

For the Russian president, "There's every reason to believe that the rebels are the ones who used the chemical weapons."

Others agree with the latter view. According to a former senior security policy analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defence, Michael Maloof, the US military confirms that sarin was confiscated earlier this year from members of the Jabhat al-Nusra Front, the most influential of the rebel Islamists fighting in Syria.

Although this information should be taken with a pinch of salt, sarin from al-Qaida in Iraq apparently made its way into Turkey and then to fighters in Syria.

Russian government sources at the UN confirm the information.

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