Syria Likely Gassed Civilians 8 Times in April: UN

Independent commission also says country is plagued by 'crimes against humanity'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2014 7:51 AM CDT
In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, posted on April 16, 2014, children are seen receiving oxygen in Kfar Zeita, a rebel-held village in Hama province in Syria.   (AP Photo/Shaam News Network)

(Newser) – The Assad regime likely used chlorine gas eight times on its own people in northern Syria villages in April, according to a report released today by an independent UN commission, the AP reports. The report also indicates that the Syrian people have been besieged by crimes against humanity at the hands of both Assad loyalists and ISIS militants in what the commission is calling a "continuation—and a geographic expansion—of the widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population."

Over nearly two weeks in April, witnesses say copters flew over at least three Syrian villages and dropped "barrel bombs" that reeked of chlorine when they burst, the report notes via the AFP. Residents affected by the bombs experienced "symptoms compatible with exposure to chemical agents, namely vomiting, eye and skin irritation, choking, and other respiratory problems." Although chlorine technically doesn't fall under the umbrella of chemical weapons that Syria is supposed to destroy under the Chemical Weapons Convention, "use of any chemical agent for military purposes is a war crime," the UN panel says, according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, the commission blasted ISIS—which brutally executed James Foley—as responsible for "executions, amputations, and lashings in public squares," as well as "terrorizing the local population" across northern Iraq and eastern Syria, says the AFP. (Read more Syria stories.)

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