Syrian forces have used chemical weapons more than two dozen times during the country's civil war, including in April's deadly attack on Khan Sheikhoun, UN war crimes investigators says.
A government warplane dropped sarin on the town in Idlib province, killing more than 80 civilians, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said, in the most conclusive findings to date from investigations into chemical weapons attacks during the conflict.
- Evidence of chemical weapons attack in Syria
- 'Horrific' Syria attack kills children, leaves hundreds wounded
The commission also said US 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 international law.
The weapons used on Khan Sheikhoun were previously identified as containing sarin, an odourless nerve agent. But that conclusion, reached by a fact-finding mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), did not say who was responsible.
"Government forces continued the pattern of using chemical weapons against civilians in opposition-held areas. 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 UN report said, declaring the attack a war crime.
In their 14th report since 2011, UN investigators said they had in all documented 33 chemical weapons attacks to date.
Twenty-seven were by the government of President Bashar al-Assad, including seven between March 1 to July 7. Perpetrators had not been identified yet in six early attacks, they said.
The Assad government has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons. It said its strikes in Khan Sheikhoun hit a weapons depot belonging to rebel forces, a claim dismissed by the UN investigators.