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UN's 68th General Assembly opens; Syria crisis to crowd usual themes of development, health

The Syrian crisis is crowding the agenda at the U.N. General Assembly's opening with delegates from more than 190 nations hearing a briefing on how rockets filled with nerve gas killed Syrian civilians in a Damascus suburb last month.

Even as the General Assembly's president, John Ashe, stressed broad themes of social development concerning women, youth, human rights and development, the delegates prepared to adjourn almost immediately after the formal opening Tuesday afternoon to hear Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon brief them on the Syrian chemical weapons report that he unveiled at the Security Council a day earlier.

It is the Security Council that deals with issues of war and peace. But this year's General Assembly speeches will also often focus on the Syrian war.