BEIRUT – The Latest on the civil war in Syria (all times local):
Syria and its allies have clashed with other nations at the annual conference of member states of the global chemical weapons watchdog, underscoring how politicized the body has become since Damascus joined.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad used the opening day of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons meeting to denounce an international investigation that last month accused Damascus of launching a deadly sarin attack in April.
European Union representative Jacek Bylica, however, said Monday that the investigation's report showed "a clear case of violation" of the treaty outlawing chemical weapons and said "the perpetrators of such horrific crimes must be held accountable."
Russia, Syria's staunch ally, recently vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have extended the mandate, which expired earlier this month, of the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mission.
Syrian activists say government airstrikes and shelling have killed at least 19 civilians in Damascus suburbs where rebels have held out against government forces throughout the nearly seven years of the country's civil war.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that government jets and artillery launched a wave of attacks in the Eastern Ghouta area on Sunday. The observatory says that by midday, 19 people were killed.
The locally-run Ghouta Media Center says 22 civilians have been killed.
Conditions are dire inside the area, which is suffering from shortages of food and medicine due to the tightening government blockade. The U.N. says there are some 350,000 people in need of immediate relief in Eastern Ghouta.
Earlier this month, Syrian rebels attacked a nearby military installation in the area.