The chairman of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic [official website], Paulo Sergio Pinheiro [official profile] stated Monday that the UN war crimes panel is investigating 14 suspected chemical attacks in Syria. A report [text, PDF] issued by chief weapons inspector Ake Sellstrom [official profile] has found clear and convincing evidence [AP report] of the use of sarin gas against civilians in Syria. A team of UN inspectors were investigating alleged chemical attacks that took place in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21. The investigation was confined to authenticating the use of chemical weapons and determining what types of chemical weapons were used. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] is expected to present the report to the UN Security Council later Monday.
The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of Assad. Last week Ban praised [JURIST report] the Syrian government's formal agreement to sign and abide by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) [text, PDF; OPCD backgrounder]. CWC signatories must agree to "chemically disarm" by destroying chemical weapon stockpiles and creating enforcement mechanisms to ensure that chemical weapons will not be produced, acquired or transferred within their jurisdiction. Rights groups accused [JURIST report] the Syrian government of responsibility for August 21 chemical weapon attacks, which allegedly involved the use of sarin nerve gas. Syria's main opposition group in August urged the UN [JURIST report] to probe numerous massacres they say were committed during Ramadan by forces loyal to Assad.