Ban Ki-moon says U.N. report will confirm chemical weapons used in Syria

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U.N Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday a report by U.N. chemical weapons experts will confirm chemical weapons were used in the Aug. 21 attack on Damascus suburbs.

“I believe the report will be an overwhelming, overwhelming report that chemical weapons were used, though I cannot publically say at this time before I receive this report,” the U.N. chief said during at a U.N. meeting.

Ban added that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “has committed many crimes against humanity.” However, he did not say whether it was the Syrian regime or the rebels who used poison gas in the Aug. 21 attack.

A U.N. expert team led by Ake Sellstrom of Sweden is currently preparing the chemical weapons report on Syria. The report is scheduled for release next week, but will not name who is responsible for the attack.

The Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad has pledged to surrender his chemical weapons stockpiles to avoid a U.S. military strike.

France has said Assad’s pledged are not enough and that concrete steps must be taken.

The United States and Russia have begun talks on ways to rid Assad of his chemical weapons.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is meeting Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva, said they would meet again later this month -- probably around Sept. 28 -- to try to set a date for a long-delayed peace conference.

He said Washington and Moscow were "working hard to find common ground" to get peace talks going in Geneva that would bring together Assad's regime and the opposition to negotiate a political solution to the conflict.

Much of the way forward "will obviously depend on the capacity to have success here in the next day, hours, days, on the subject of the chemical weapons," Kerry told reporters after meeting with Lavrov and the U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, AFP reported.

Lavrov said he also hoped a "basically abandoned" peace plan first agreed in Geneva in June last year would be revived.

"We agreed to meet in New York in the margins of the (UN) General Assembly and see where we are, and what the Syrian parties think about it and do about it," Lavrov said, according to AFP.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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