GENEVA (AA) – The Syrian government used banned chemical weapons against civilians on at least eight separate occasions this year, the United Nations’ commission on Syria has reported.
Over a 10-day period in April, forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad used chlorine gas in western Idlib and Hama provinces, the commission said on Wednesday.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that those agents were dropped in barrel bombs from government helicopters flying overhead,” the commission’s report said.
Barrel bombs are barrels filled with explosives and other components to increase their killing power, such as shrapnel, fuel or chemicals. In Syria, they often dropped from helicopter by government forces.
Chlorine gas is a chemical weapon as defined under the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention. It was widely used during World War I and when inhaled can cause burning and drowning through a reaction that releases water.
It was not included on the list of chemical weapons submitted to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons after Syria vowed to hand over its chemical arsenal following a globally-condemned sarin gas attack on the outskirts of Damascus last August.
The UN report also focused on atrocities committed by opposition groups in Syria, particularly the Islamic State.
It highlighted the recruitment of children as fighters by IS and a campaign of fear waged against the local population in northern Syria including public executions, amputations and whippings, often forcing children to watch.
The report covers the period during which IS seized large areas of Syria.
Around 200,000 have died since the civil war began in 2011.
The UN findings are based on 480 interviews and evidence collected between January and July.
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