UNITED NATIONS, Dec.13 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called on the international community to hold accountable those responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
"The international community has a moral and political responsibility to hold accountable those responsible, to deter future incidents and to ensure that chemical weapons can never re-emerge as an instrument of warfare," Ban said as he was presenting to the UN General Assembly a final report of an international probe team.
The team, led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, in September found "clear and convincing evidence" of Sarin gas attacks against civilians, including children, in the Damascus area, and reported "credible information" that such weapons were used against soldiers and civilians in other parts of the country, including in Khan Al Asal on March 19.
It did not specify which party might have used the weapons in the nearly three-year old civil war between the government and opposition fighters in Syria, as it was not part of the mandate of the UN fact-finding panel.
"We must also do our utmost to achieve universal adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention," Ban said, urging "all states that have not yet done so to sign, ratify and accede to this vital instrument without delay."
Since the allegations arose, the Syrian government acknowledged possession of chemical weapons, joined the Chemical Weapons Convention and pledged to eliminate them.
A Joint UN Mission with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was established and is overseeing the destruction of Syria's stockpiles and production facilities.
"I deplore in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons in Syria as an offense against the universal values of humankind," Ban said.
"The international community continues to expect that the Syrian Arab Republic will implement faithfully its obligations related to the complete elimination of its chemical weapons program by the first half of 2014, and that it will abide by global norms on disarmament and non-proliferation," he added.
The secretary-general underlined his determination to seek an urgent end to the conflict, which has left more than 100,000 people killed in Syria, mostly by conventional weapons.
"Nearly half the population of Syria is either displaced or in need of urgent humanitarian assistance," Ban said. "The conflict is having profound impacts on the stability and economy of the entire Middle East."
"As Syrians prepare to work for a political solution at next month's conference (in Geneva) on Syria, I appeal to all parties to demonstrate their leadership and vision by ceasing hostilities..." he said, calling on the international community "to do everything in its power to achieve this outcome."
UN chief receives final report of Syria's chemical weapons probe
UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon said here Thursday that he just received the final report of Syria's chemical weapons probe, and he will brief the UN General Assembly on the report Friday and the UN Security Council Monday.
The secretary-general made the statement to the press here shortly after he got the report from Ake Sellstrom, the head of an international probe into the alleged use of chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian conflict. Sellstrom is also a Swedish scientist, an expert in chemical weapons. Full story