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UN to begin transferring chemical weapons from Syria for testing

A spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced [UN News Centre report] on Sunday that the UN chemical weapons inspection team in Syria is set to begin transferring samples that it has collected from the country to the laboratories for testing. Following the analysis, a report will be given to Ban, who will then share the results with all permanent and non-permanent member states of the UN Security Council [official website]. The investigation is expected to uncover impartial, scientific facts relating to any prior use of chemical weapons. Ban requested that inspectors speed up the chemical analysis process due to the magnitude of the alleged attack, but only to the extent that they can still guarantee the accuracy of the results will not be affected. Two Syrian officials are observing the investigation to verify the credibility of the work and findings are expected to be available within the next two weeks. Ban plans to brief the members of the Security Council sometime this week, possibly as early as Tuesday.

Ban 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'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." Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] 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. Pillay expressed concern [JURIST report] in May 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. 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. More than 100,000 people have been killed, almost two million have fled to neighboring countries and a further 4 million have been internally displaced since the fighting began.

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