News / Middle East

UN: Chemical Weapons in Syria Would be 'Crime Against Humanity'

A citizen journalism image provided by the Local Committee of Arbeen which has been authenticated based on contents and AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens trying to identify dead bodies, after an alleged poison gas attack by government forces. There has
A citizen journalism image provided by the Local Committee of Arbeen which has been authenticated based on contents and AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens trying to identify dead bodies, after an alleged poison gas attack by government forces. There has
VOA News
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says any use of chemical weapons in Syria would amount to a "crime against humanity" that would result in "serious consequences" if the allegations prove to be true.

Mr. Ban made the comments during a visit to Seoul, adding that use of chemical weapons under any circumstance would violate international law.

Syrian opposition leaders and activists accuse the Syrian government of using poison gas in an artillery and rocket assault on rebel-held Damascus suburbs on Wednesday. They say hundreds of civilians were killed and released video of scores of bodies of adults and children lying on the ground without signs of injury. Neither the number of people killed nor the cause of death could be independently confirmed.

Mr. Assad's government has denied using chemical weapons in Wednesday's fighting. It has accused the opposition of using chemical weapons earlier this year near Aleppo. A U.N. team is already on the ground in Syria investigating those claims.

On Thursday in a statement released through his spokesman, Mr. Ban said the world body has formally asked the Syrian government to let U.N. personnel "swiftly investigate" the scene of Wednesday's alleged chemical weapon attack near Damascus.

Mr. Ban said he expects to receive a "positive response" from the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "without delay." The U.N. chief said he also asked Under Secretary General Angela Kane to visit Damascus to follow up on the matter.

In a briefing Thursday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest called on the Syrian government to allow the U.N. inspectors to interview witnesses, collect physical samples and have unfettered access to the areas suspected of being hit by chemical weapons.

France said the international community must respond with force if the Syrian opposition allegations are true. But, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius ruled out the use of ground troops.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also called for international action, saying a "red line" has been crossed in Syria.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid