United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called the report on the use of chemical weapons in Syria "chilling reading" and declared that "this is a war crime and a violation of international law."
Ban Ki-Moon stressed that the attack was the largest chemical weapons incident since 1988, when the regime of Saddam Hussein used gas against Iraqi civilians in Halabja.
The Secretary General said the report, which was submitted to the Security Council and released to the public today, clearly showed that chemical weapons were used in the Ghouta area of Damascus on August 21, with resulting civilian casualties. He said that blood samples taken from victims and fragments from rockets used to deliver the weapons tested positive for sarin gas.
While he called for accountability for the perpetrators of the attack, Ban Ki-Moon added that determining who was responsible is the subject of ongoing discussions in the Security Council.
This past weekend Sec. of State John Kerry met with his Russians counterpart and agreed to a proposal on Syria giving up and international parties destroying Syria's chemical weapons. Syria has announced that it is willing to join the Chemical Weapons Convention and allow its chemical stockpile to be placed under international control and eventually destroyed.
Standing next to the Russian Foreign Minister, Secretary Kerry on Thursday repeated U.S. claims that Syrian President Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. He addressed new reports that the Assad regime wants 30 days to submit information about its weapons, rejecting the idea. He also stated some areas where the U.S. and Russia are in agreement on this issue.
Meanwhile, Syria took the first step in giving up its chemical weapons stockpiles on Thursday by submitting an application to join the United Nations' Chemical Weapons Convention.
Last Tuesday, Pres. Obama stated that he was willing to discuss the proposal, but a military strike is still an option. Congress has postponed any votes to authorize a strike until discussions between the U.S. and other parties is completed.
Last week, administration officials continued to brief Congress, including National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Sec. Kerry, Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel and Joints Chief Chair Mike Dempsey.
On Saturday, August 31, President Obama announced that he would seek Congressional approval to launch a series of targeted military strikes on Syria in retaliation for the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons against rebels on August 21. This announcement came after the White House released an intelligence report on the attack, which Sec. Kerry urged all Americans to read.
U.N. inspectors were in the country two weeks ago to investigate the earlier reports of chemical weapons use, and were granted access to the site of the most recent reports. While traveling to that site, a U.N. convoy was shot at, disabling a vehicle and causing a delay in their inspections.