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The chief U.N chemical weapons inspector handed his final report on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria Thursday to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
"The use of chemical weapons is a grave violation of international law and an affront to our shared humanity," Ban said. "We need to remain vigilant to ensure that these awful weapons are eliminated, not only in Syria, but everywhere."
Experts found evidence of chemical weapons use, probably in several locations, the report said.
Ake Sellstrom, a Swedish professor and head of the U.N. chemical inspections team, presented the report to Ban in his office at U.N. headquarters, and it is then being sent to members of the Security Council.Read more at Al Jazeera America
The Final Report by the United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic has been turned over today, Thursday, 12 December, to the Secretary-General by Professor Åke Sellström, the Head of the Mission.
On Friday, 13 December, the Secretary-General will brief the General Assembly on the report in a closed session at 3:00 pm.
Following that briefing, at 4:30 pm, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Angela Kane; Head of the United Nations Mission; Professor Sellström; and the team leaders, Mr. Scott Cairns from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and Dr. Maurizio Barbeschi from the World Health Organization, will brief the press.
The Secretary-General will brief the Security Council on the report on Monday, 16 December 2013.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms the recent massacres of Syrian civilians in the Qalamoun region and elsewhere. Scores of civilians, many of them children, have again fallen victim to brutal violence, and we are outraged at the alarming reports, including reports of invasive house raids, kidnappings, and extrajudicial killings. We also note and condemn the latest report of a massacre of civilians in Adra.
As we strongly condemn these atrocities against the civilian population, we also reinforce our solidarity with the Syrian people. This violence is a stark reminder that civilians bear the greatest sacrifice in their fight for a free Syria. Direct attacks on civilians not taking part in hostilities breach the most basic principles of dignity and freedom from oppression that have characterized the Syrian people's struggle.
We have long said that those responsible for perpetrating atrocities in Syria – especially the latest vicious violence against innocent civilians – must be held accountable. Toward this end, we continue to work with Syrian activists and civil society to develop a sound understanding of different transitional justice tools and discuss future transitional justice processes, such as a tribunal. We are also supporting international and Syrian documentation efforts, including efforts to train Syrian investigators. These efforts are critical in building an evidence base that will contribute to ensuring the justice and accountability that the Syrian people, especially victims, deserve. We remain committed to help ensure those responsible for these atrocities are held accountable.
It is particularly troubling to us that these atrocities have been committed in many areas where the regime has denied humanitarian access to suffering Syrians. The severe winter storm and cold conditions are only adding to the hardships faced by those in need. We reiterate our calls for the Syrian Government and other parties to the conflict to facilitate humanitarian access to all those in need and to work to end the needless suffering of the Syrian people.
International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi has given Syria's warring sides until December 27 to name their delegations to planned peace negotiations next month, officials said on Thursday.
About 30 ministers from big powers, regional countries and others are due to gather in the resort of Montreux on January 22 to give their blessing to the negotiations between the government of President Bashar al-Assad and rebels fighting to oust him.
Then Brahimi will broker the first face-to-face Syrian talks in Geneva from January 23. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is to confirm the Montreux ministerial venue shortly - Geneva hotels will be full at the time due to an annual luxury watch fair.
The stated goal is to agree a transitional government with full powers to end a 1,000-day-old conflict that has killed well over 100,000 people and forced millions to flee their homes.
Brahimi has set a deadline for Damascus and the opposition to name their teams to the "Geneva 2 conference", which follows one held by his predecessor Kofi Annan in June 2012. Those talks did not formally involve the Syrian government and its foes.
The envoy's spokeswoman, Khawla Mattar, said Brahimi wanted the delegations named by December 27. "That is the deadline by which Mr Brahimi should receive the names of the Syrian delegations and who is leading them," she said.
"He fled as a result of the Islamic Front taking over his headquarters," a senior U.S. official said.
The U.S. is urging Gen. Idris, who left Syria for Turkey then Doha over the weekend, to return to Syria, the officials said.
Two senior officials said the warehouses that were taken over by the Islamic Front appeared to contain a range of lethal and nonlethal equipment. The U.S. and Britain announced Wednesday that they were freezing the delivery of nonlethal equipment into northern Syria.
U.S. officials declined to comment on whether American weapons were in the warehouses. The Central Intelligence Agency has been providing small amounts of arms to handpicked moderate rebels. Gen. Idris also receives weapons from other countries, including Saudi Arabia.
A blustery storm dropped torrential rain and snow on Lebanon and Jordan on Wednesday, as aid agencies scrambled to distribute desperately needed winter supplies like blankets and plastic tarps to Syrian refugees who have sought safe haven in the countries.
Temperatures dropped below freezing in northern Lebanon and some areas of the Bekaa Valley, which is dotted with informal refugee settlements made largely from tents not built to withstand the harsh weather.
The winter weather heaped another layer of misery on the already grim existence of many of the estimated 1.4 million Syrians in Lebanon who fled the civil war raging in their homeland.
"We are extremely concerned for the refugees this winter that promises to be very harsh," Dana Sleiman of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees told The Associated Press.Read more at Al Jazeera America
A blustery storm dropped torrential rain and snow on Lebanon and Jordan on Wednesday, forcing aid agencies to scramble to distribute desperately needed winter supplies like blankets and plastic tarps to Syrian refugees who have sought safe haven in the countries.
The storm, dubbed Alexa, pushed temperatures below freezing in northern Lebanon and some areas of the Bekaa Valley, which is dotted with informal refugee settlements. The winter weather heaped another layer of misery on the already grim existence of many of the estimated 1.4 million Syrians in Lebanon who fled the civil war raging in their homeland.
"We are extremely concerned for the refugees this winter that promises to be very harsh," Dana Sleiman of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees told The Associated Press.
The United States and Britain suspended non-lethal aid to northern Syria after Islamist fighters seized Western-backed rebel weapons warehouses, highlighting fears that supplies could end up in the wrong hands and the general chaos engulfing the nation.
The rebel Free Syrian Army fighting President Bashar al-Assad said the U.S. and British moves were rushed and mistaken. "We hope our friends will rethink and wait for a few days when things will be clearer," FSA spokesman Louay Meqdad said.
The suspension underlines a crisis for the FSA leadership which needs international backing to reinforce its credibility and to stop its fighters joining powerful al Qaeda-backed Islamist militants who now dominate the war with Assad.