(Removes typo to make town name read Khan al-Assal in 2nd paragraph)
GENEVA, March 5 (Reuters) - Chemical weapons used in two incidents in Syria last year appear to come from the stockpiles of the Syrian military, United Nations human rights investigators said on Wednesday in a report that went beyond previous findings.
The team of independent experts, led by Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, said that chemical agents used in the Damascus suburb of al-Ghouta on Aug. 21 and in Khan al-Assal near Aleppo in March 2013 bore “the same unique hallmarks”.
“The evidence available concerning the nature, quality and quantity of the agents used on 21 August indicated that the perpetrators likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military, as well as the expertise and equipment necessary to manipulate safely large amount of chemical agents,” the investigators said in the report.
“Concerning the incident in Khan al-Assal on 19 March, the chemical agents used in that attack bore the same unique hallmarks as those used in al-Ghouta,” the report said.
Without categorically saying which side was to blame, chief United Nations investigator Ake Sellstrom, who led a team of inspectors in Syria, said in January it was “difficult to see” how the opposition could have weaponised the toxins used. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Louise Ireland)
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