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UN chief Antonio Guterres 'deeply disturbed' by Syria chemical attack reports

United Nations: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is "deeply disturbed" by reports of a suspected chemical attack on Syria but is not in a position to  independently verify it.

A file photo of Antonio Guterres. Reuters

A file photo of Antonio Guterres. Reuters

In a statement from his spokesperson, the Secretary-General expressed condolences to the victims of the incident and their families.

He said that the UN Security Council has affirmed that the use of chemical weapons "constitutes a serious violation of international law" and runs counter to resolutions passed by the 15-member body.

While the UN has said that it is not in a position to independently verify these reports, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is in the process of gathering and analysing information to confirm if chemical weapons were used.

The OPCW is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by States Parties.

Meanwhile, the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic has voiced its support for OPCW's fact-finding mission. Established by the UN Human Rights Council, the Commission works to investigate if human rights abuses that have occurred in Syria since March 2011 and who should be held responsible.

In a statement, the Commission urged "full support" for the fact-finding mission and the independent Joint Investigative Mechanism.
"It is imperative for perpetrators of such attacks to be identified and held accountable," the Commission said, adding that it is also investigating the circumstances surrounding the attack.

Preliminary information indicates a number of civilian casualties, including children. "Both the use of chemical weapons, as well as the
deliberate targeting of medical facilities, would amount to war crimes and serious violations of human rights law," the Commission said.

Updated Date: Apr 05, 2017 10:37 AM

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