Assad to blame for chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun, says UN

Syria's players celebrate a goal in their World Cup qualifying game against China in June

At least 281 people were killed in an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on August 21, 2013, with some reports putting the death toll at 1,729.

As well as the use of chemical weapons, brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime have included sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians, leading to war crimes investigations.

In the deadliest Khan Sheikhoun attack, Russian and Syrian officials denied that Syrian forces had used chemical weapons, explaining that air strikes conducted by Syrian forces that day had struck a terrorist chemical weapons depot. "In the gravest incident, the Syrian air force used sarin in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, killing dozens, the majority of whom were women and children", the United Nations report said, declaring the attack a war crime.

The U.N.'s Commission of Inquiry on Syria released their report on September 6, confirming the Syrian government carried out 27 chemical weapon attacks.

The commission also said the United States violated worldwide law by failing to protect civilians when they carried out an airstrike on a mosque in al-Jinah, Syria.

The attack on Khan Sheikhoun - which left 28 children and 23 women among the dead - prompted a retaliatory strike by the USA on the airfield from where the Sukhoi-22 aeroplane took off.

The report offers some of the strongest evidence yet of allegations that President Bashar Assad's forces conducted the April 4 attack on Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib province. The plane is used only by the Syrian air force.

Noting concerns about the impact of global coalition air strikes on civilians, the report highlighted USA operations which hit civilians. The aerial campaign also targeted medical facilities throughout the area, resulting in a severe weakening of their ability to provide assistance to victims of the sarin attack and a consequent increase in the number of civilian casualties.

The Commission also said USA air strikes on a mosque in the village of Al-Jina in rural Aleppo in March that killed 38 people, including children, failed to take precautions in violation of worldwide law.

The White House last month called on the global community to unite to ensure that anyone using chemical weapons faced "serious consequences" without commenting further on what those would be.

October 21, 2016: The UN-led Joint Investigative Mechanism says that of nine alleged chemical attacks it is examining, three can be attributed to the Syrian government and one to ISIS jihadists. Satellite imagery, photos of bomb remnants and early warning reports were used.

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