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UN warns of 'consequences' for Syria chemical attacks

August 28, 2015 at 8:45 am

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that those who use toxic chemicals in the Syrian civil war will face consequences.

In a statement issued by his spokesman, Ban expressed concerns about continuing reports of chemical weapons use in the Syrian conflict, now in its fifth year.

“The international community has a responsibility to hold the perpetrators accountable and to ensure that chemical weapons never be used again as an instrument of warfare,” he said.

Earlier this month, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution asking the UN chief and the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to set up a joint investigative panel tasked with determining who to blame for toxic weapons attacks in Syria.

On Thursday, Ban submitted to the 15-member body “the requested recommendations … on the OPCW–UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) to be established by the resolution”.

The resolution “is a strong collective message from the international community that any such use shall not be tolerated and will have consequences”, he said, calling on all parties in the conflict to cooperate fully with the investigative panel.

The use of chlorine and other toxic chemicals as a weapon in Syria has been previously documented.

A fact-finding mission by the OPCW found in September 2014 “with a high degree of confidence, that chlorine was used as a weapon systematically and repeatedly in three villages in northern Syria”.

Earlier Thursday, UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien urged the Security Council to do everything in its power to push for a political solution to end the conflict.

“With all the will in the world, humanitarian action cannot be a substitute for political action. The Council must exert leadership to push for a political solution,” he told the council in a briefing.

The Syrian civil war has resulted in the deaths of at least 250,000 victims and made the country the world’s single-largest source of refugees and displaced people, according to the UN.