UN Officially Accuses Assad Government in Using Sarin in Khan Sheikhoun

"Government forces continued the pattern of using chemical weapons against civilians in opposition-held areas", read the United Nations report.

A previous investigation by chemical weapons inspectors had identified the use of sarin at Khan Sheikhoun but did not say who was responsible.

The U.N. investigators found that 33 chemical attacks had taken place during the civil war. The report stated that the April 4 attack on the town in Syria's northwestern Idlib province had been carried out by Russian-made aircraft used by military forces answering to President Bashar Al-Assad.

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.

Mr Pinheiro said that he was gravely concerned about the impact of coalition airstrikes and called on the U.S. to better protect civilians during air strikes on militants in the east of the country.

"The parties to this horrific conflict must fundamentally realign their tactics with basic notions of humanity, and the global community must reinvigorate its commitment to meaningful justice and accountability for all perpetrators of crimes, if we are to see a significant shift away from Machiavellian disregard for the interests of the Syrian people and the progress towards alleviating the suffering of civilians", said Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Chair of the Commission.

Speaking in Geneva, the chair of the commission Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, said most incidents which civilians are killed and maimed involve the unlawful use of conventional weapons, such as cluster munitions and explosive weapons in civilian populated areas.

"As the result of an aerial campaign by pro-Government forces in the area surrounding Khan Shaykhun, many medical facilities were destroyed, which compounded the suffering of victims of the sarin attack", the report added. 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.

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

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.

Investigators were not granted access to Syria and based their report on photos of bomb remnants, satellite imagery and witness accounts.

  • Santos West