UN experts probing 7 Syria chemical attacks

2013-09-27 14:49
A member of a UN investigation team takes samples of sands near a part of a missile likely to be one of the chemical rockets. (Picture: AP)

A member of a UN investigation team takes samples of sands near a part of a missile likely to be one of the chemical rockets. (Picture: AP)

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Damascus - UN experts in Syria are investigating seven alleged chemical weapons attacks and expect to finish their work on the ground on Monday, the United Nations said on Friday.

In a statement issued from the Syrian capital, where the team arrived earlier this week, the UN said the experts hoped to have a comprehensive report ready "by late October".

The UN mission is separate from a team of Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons inspectors due to get to work by next week in Syria destroying its chemical arsenal.

The alleged attacks being investigated include a 19 March incident in Khan al-Assal, in northern Aleppo province, which both the government and rebels reported, each accusing the other side of responsibility.

Other sites that will be investigated include the Sheikh Maqsud neighbourhood in Aleppo city, allegedly the site of an April attack, and Saraqeb in north-western Idlib province.

The team is also continuing investigations into a 21 August attack in the Ghouta area in the suburbs of Damascus, which occurred during their group's first mission to Syria last month.

The experts visited the site of that alleged attack during their first trip and issued a preliminary report earlier this month confirming the use of the chemical weapon, sarin, there.

In addition, the team is investigating an alleged attack on 22 August in the Jubar district of Damascus, and a seventh incident reported in Ashrafiyeh Sahnaya in Damascus province on 25 August.

"The UN team of investigators, which returned to Syria for a second working visit on 25th September, expects to finalise its activities in the country by Monday, 30th September," the statement said.

"In the course of performing their task, the experts have received several documents and samples and have conducted many interviews."

The statement said the team was working on a "comprehensive report that it hopes will be ready by late October".

The team's first report, issued on 16 September, said there was evidence that the nerve agent sarin had been used in the 21 August attack.

But the experts are mandated only to investigate whether chemical weapons were used, not to determine who was responsible for their use.

Read more on:    un  |  opcw  |  bashar assad  |  syria  |  syria conflict

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