Syria: UN investigates new chemical attacks

The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic released a report June 23 stating that both government and rebel forces are targeting civilians in Syria's civil war. The report finds: "Indiscriminate attacks on civilian-inhabited areas are committed across Syria by most, if not all, of the warring parties. The Government, with its superior firepower and control of the skies, inflicts the most damage in its indiscriminate attacks on cities, towns, villages and neighbourhoods not under its control. Non-State armed groups continue to launch attacks on Government-held localities, usually from nearby ground positions, causing civilian deaths and injuries." It also states: "New reports were received of the use of chlorine and/or phosgene gas during attacks on the towns in Idlib governorate, including Saraqib, Sarmin, and Idlib city, in March and April 2015. These incidents are currently under investigation."

The report notes that UN Security Council Resolution 2209, approved earlier this year, "condemned in the strongest terms any use of chlorine as a weapon in Syria." It recalls that Resolution 2209 states that if further violations of the earlier Resolution 2118 on use of chemical weapons in Syria are found to have taken place, Chapter VII of the UN Charter would be invoked, allowing sanctions or military action.