Chemical weapons were used in the ongoing conflict in Syria in five out of seven attacks investigated by United Nations experts, a report published Thursday concluded. The weapons were used both against government soldiers and civilians -- in one case on a large scale.
The report stated that victims included children in some attacks, at least four of which involved the deadly nerve agent sarin.
But direct links between the incidents, the victims and the alleged sites, couldn't be established with certainty for each case.
"The United Nations Mission remains deeply concerned that chemical weapons were used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arabic Republic, which has added yet another dimension to the continued suffering of the Syrian people," the report read.
The experts responsible for the report were from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons — which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year — and the World Health Organization.
Read the full report (.pdf)
According to the report, chemical weapons attacks took place in Khan Al Asal in March and Jobar, Saraqueb and Ashrafiah Sahnaya in August.
That same month, chemical weapons were used against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale in the Ghouta area of Damascus, the report concluded.
The investigation, however, didn't look into who the perpetrators of the attacks were.
Both government forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and opposition troops have accused each other of using chemical weapons.
The conflict, which has been ravaging the country for more than two and a half years, has killed more than 100,000 people, according to the U.N.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will brief the U.N. General Assembly on the report Friday and the U.N. Security Council Monday.
"The use of chemical weapons is a grave violation of international law and an affront to our shared humanity. We need to remain vigilant to ensure that these awful weapons are eliminated, not only in Syria, but everywhere," Ban said.
The Syrian government agreed to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal following the Ghouta attack, which brought about threats of U.S. air strikes.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was charged with supervising the elimination of Syria's chemical arsenal.
Reuters contributed to this report.
First published December 12 2013, 5:57 PM