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UN SG: Syria chemical weapon use would constitute a crime against humanity

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] on Friday condemned [news release] the escalating violence in Syria, insisting that any use of chemical weapons would constitute a crime against humanity with "serious results for the perpetrator." Ban called for an immediate investigation [UN News Centre report] into the use of chemical weapons in Syria and asked the country's government to fully cooperate in the investigation, noting:

It is clear that the situation in Syria continues to worsen. The humanitarian suffering is alarming. Sectarian tensions have been ignited. Regional instability is spreading. The death toll unfortunately has now surged past 100,000 people. The images of victims from this latest incident, including many children, are heartbreaking and sickening.
Ban's statement follows UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay's [official website] condemnation [JURIST report] of the reported chemical weapon attacks and reaffirmed the UN goal of achieving "complete cessation of hostilities, delivering humanitarian assistance and getting the Government and the opposition to the negotiating table in Geneva as soon as possible."

The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and the increasingly bloody nature of the conflict has put pressure on the international community to intervene. Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch reported [JURIST report] that nine apparent ballistic missile attacks on populated areas have killed at least 215 citizens including 100 children. In July the Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria urged the international community [JURIST report] to bring peace to the country. In May Pillay expressed concern [JURIST report] regarding reports that described the slaying of entire Syrian families and shelling of communities, as well as the targeted strikes by Syrian armed forces on hospitals and schools. More than 100,000 people have been killed since fighting began between Syrian Government forces and opposition groups seeking to oust Assad. Almost two million have fled to neighboring countries and a further 4 million have been internally displaced.

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