U.N. chief says only Security Council can order airstrikes on Syria

The Los Angeles Times reports: Any faction found to have used chemical weapons “must be brought to justice,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday. But the head of the world body also warned that any use of force to punish perpetrators would be legal only in self-defense or with U.N. Security Council authorization.

Ban appealed for patience among U.N. member states while an investigative team that returned from Syria over the weekend completes analysis of biomedical and environmental samples it collected.

The team, which spent four days in search of evidence that chemical attacks occurred Aug. 21, will have delivered all of its forensic evidence to European labs for analysis by Wednesday, Ban said at U.N. headquarters in New York at a webcast news conference.

“We need to emphasize the importance of not jeopardizing the scientific timelines needed for accurate analysis,” he said, without providing any specifics on when the results will be available and made public.

The U.N. investigators, led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, were tasked solely with determining whether chemical weapons were used, not who used them, in attacks in Damascus suburbs that U.S. intelligence reports say killed more than 1,400 people.

Asked whether threatened U.S. military action to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government would be legal, Ban insisted that “the Security Council has primary responsibility for international peace and security.” [Continue reading…]

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