The United Nations is launching an investigation into the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made the announcement during a media briefing on Thursday.
“I have decided to conduct a United Nations investigation into the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria,” Ban said according to Reuters. He said the investigation will focus on “the specific incident brought to my attention by the Syrian government.”
The use of chemical weapons is a big deal because the United States has declared that its “red line” in the conflict.
“I have made clear the use of chemical weapons is a game changer,” President Obama said during a press conference in Israel yesterday.
Obama also expressed doubt about claims made by the government of Bashar Assad. On Tuesday, Syria said rebels may have launched a chemical attack on the city of Aleppo. The rebels said the opposition was “not behind this attack.”
Obama said intelligence tells him it is the Syrian government that has the capability of launching such an attack.
Ban said the use of chemical weapons by any side would be “an outrageous crime.”
“There is much work to do and this will not happen overnight,” Ban said. “It is obviously a difficult mission. I intend for this investigation to start as soon as practically possible. Again my announcement should serve as an unequivocal reminder that the use of chemical weapons is a crime against humanity.”
Ban said the “overall mandate, mission composition, and operational conditions” of the investigation are still being worked out.