Syria regime behind sarin gas attack in April: UN probe

UN war crimes investigators on Wednesday (September 6th) said they had evidence that Syrian regime forces were behind the chemical attack that killed dozens of people in Khan Sheikhun in April, AFP reported.

In the first UN report to officially lay blame for the attack on Damascus, the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Syria said it had gathered an "extensive body of information" showing Damascus was behind the April 4th sarin gas attack that killed at least 83 people.

A day earlier, the judge leading the new UN effort to investigate the conflict said the world has taken "a step closer" towards justice for alleged war crimes committed in Syria with the creation of a new body.

Catherine Marchi-Uhel of France is in charge of the new "International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism", which is tasked with preparing prosecutions for major international crimes committed in Syria.

Marchi-Uhel said her panel will work closely with the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI), which has submitted regular reports detailing atrocities in the Syrian conflict.

An alliance of Western powers including the US, Britain and France, last year successfully pushed for the creation of a new body.

Marchi-Uhel said her mandate was to compile prosecutorial files that could be used by any jurisdiction -- domestic or international -- capable of taking action against the perpetrators of major international crimes in Syria.

"We are getting a step closer to prosecution and trials," she said, voicing hope that her work will have "a deterring effect" on the violence that continues to rage on the ground.

Her broad mandate allows her to pursue cases against all actors in the conflict, including opposition groups and extremists such as the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS), as well as the Syrian regime and its military.

The COI has previously accused all sides of committing war crimes in Syria.

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