U.N. team reports on cases of chemical weapons use in Syria

The U.N. team probing the use of chemical weapons in Syria reported on Thursday that there was credible evidence that chemical weapons were used against civilians and soldiers outside of the Damascus area.

In September, the team found clear and convincing evidence that sarin gas was used against civilians, including children. The previous report found the weapons were used on a relatively large scale in the Ghouta area of Damascus on August 21.

"The United Nations mission collected credible information that corroborates the allegations that chemical weapons were used in Khan Al Asal on (March 19) against soldiers and civilians," the report said. "However, the release of chemical weapons at the alleged site could not be independently verified in the absence of primary information on delivery systems and of environmental and biomedical samples collected and analyzed under the chain of custody."

Åke Sellström, the team's leader, gave the report to Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary-general, at the U.N. Headquarters in New York. Ban said chemical weapons must be eliminated throughout the world, not just in Syria.

"The use of chemical weapons is a grave violation of international law and an affront to our shared humanity," Ban said. "We need to remain vigilant to ensure that these awful weapons are eliminated, not only in Syria, but everywhere."

The team also found evidence of the probable use of chemical weapons in Jobar on August 24 on a relatively small scale. Evidence also suggested chemical weapons were used in Saraqueb on August 24 against civilians and in Ashrafiah Sahnaya on August 25 against soldiers. In all three incidents, the team was unable to establish a link between the victims, the alleged event and the alleged site.

The U.N. mission was unable to corroborate allegations that chemical weapons were used in Sheik Maqsood on April 13 in the absence of further information and Bahhariyeh on August 22 due to a lack of blood samples.

"The United Nations mission remains deeply concerned that chemical weapons were used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arabic Republic, which has added yet another dimension to the continued suffering of the Syrian people," the report said.

Ban planned to brief the U.N. General Assembly on the report during a closed session on Friday.