Ban: Use of chemical weapons in Syria is a war crime

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday that the use of chemical weapons in Syria is a war crime that violates international law.

Ban made the statement during a briefing to the U.N. General Assembly to report the findings of the U.N. Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic. The U.N. team found that chemical weapons were used during an attack on August 21 in the Ghouta area of Damascus.

The U.N. mission found positive tests for sarin in a majority of environmental samples taken from impact sites and locations where survivors were affected by sarin and in a majority of the exploded surface-to-surface rockets or rocket fragments that were examined.

"This is the most significant confirmed use of chemical weapons against civilians since Saddam Hussein used them in Halabja in 1988," Ban said. "The international community has a responsibility to hold the perpetrators accountable and to ensure that chemical weapons never re-emerge as an instrument of warfare. Any use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere is a crime."

Ban said the U.N. mission will return to Syria as soon as practically possible to finish looking into other pending credible allegations of chemical weapon use.