UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] stated in a UN meeting on Friday that an expert team's report will likely confirm the use of chemical weapons in the August 21 attack on Damascus.The attack [Reuters report], which has been attributed to forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [BBC profile], deployed the nerve agent sarin gas over the rebel-held Damascas suburbs, killed [Reuters report] 1,429 Syrian civilians, including 426 children. Ban has accused [Reuters report] Assad of committing "many crimes against humanity," though he did not say whether it was Assad's forces or rebels who used the chemical weapons in the August 21 attack. The tentative date for Ban's presentation on the expert team's report on the August 21 attack is Monday.
The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of Assad, and the increasingly bloody nature of the conflict has put pressure on the international community to intervene. Syria's main opposition group in August urged the UN to probe numerous massacres they say were committed during Ramadan by forces loyal to Assad. In July the Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria [official website] urged the international community [JURIST report] to bring peace the country. In May UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] 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.