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Chemical arms used in Syria: UN report

UNITED NATIONS--Chemical weapons have been used at least five times during the Syrian conflict and in some cases children and civilians have been slaughtered, according to a U.N. report released Thursday.

The report cites “credible evidence” and “evidence consistent with the probable use of chemical weapons” in the Syrian districts of Ghouta, Khan Al Asal, Jobar, Saraqueb and Ashrafieh Sahnaya.

The U.N. inspectors said they could not corroborate their use in two more of the seven sites studied: Bahhariyeh and Sheik Maqsood.

“The United Nations Mission concludes that chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic,” said the report, prepared by a team led by Swedish expert Aake Sellstrom.

However, the report does not attribute blame for the attacks, as this was beyond the mandate given the team by the U.N. Security Council.

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has admitted his forces hold chemical weapons, and has vowed to surrender them to international experts, but insists his forces did not target civilians.

Western and Arab governments, human rights groups and Syrian rebels accuse the regime of carrying out the attacks. Assad and his allies in Moscow and Tehran blame the rebels.

Sellstrom, who led an investigative mission to Syria, had already provided a preliminary report to U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon on Sept. 16.

That report concluded that banned chemical weapons had been used on a wide scale.

The final report said the mission “collected clear and convincing evidence that chemical weapons were used also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale” in the Ghouta area of Damascus on Aug. 23.

The inspectors collected “credible information” corroborating allegations that chemical weapons were used in Khan Al Asal on March 19 against soldiers and civilians.

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