West has proof of Syria chemical weapons

2013-04-12 07:55
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon (Mark Garten, AFP)

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon (Mark Garten, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

United Nations - Western nations have "hard evidence" that chemical weapons have been used at least once in the Syrian war but a UN investigation is now unlikely to get into the country, diplomats said on Thursday.

President Bashar Assad's government asked the UN to investigate its claims against rebel forces. But it is now refusing to let international experts into the country because the UN wants to look into claims against Assad's forces.

"In one case we have hard evidence," a western diplomat told reporters, commenting on the rival claims.

"There are several examples where we are quite sure that shells with chemicals have been used in a very sporadic way," added the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity and without giving details of the evidence.

A diplomat from a UN Security Council nation also said that "quite convincing" evidence had been sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to back accusations against Assad's forces.

Britain and France have submitted information to the United Nations about allegations that government forces used chemical arms in the city of Homs on 23 December and at Ataybah near Damascus last month.

Neither has disclosed details but the Homs case is said to be the most serious of the two.

Security Council 'totally blocked'

The Syrian government called for a UN investigation after it said opposition rebels fired a chemical weapon shell into Khan al-Assal in Aleppo province on 19 March.

Syrian government troops were among those killed or wounded in the attack, according to diplomats.

The UN has assembled a team of international experts, led by Ake Sellstrom of Sweden, in the region.

But Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem wrote to Ban this week saying his government could not accept an inquiry that went beyond the Aleppo incident.

"It is regrettable that the Syrian government has rejected my offer to engage in [an] investigation," Ban said Thursday after talks with US President Barack Obama in Washington.

Ban had demanded "unfettered access" to all of Syria before sending the team. "They are now ready. They can be deployed any time soon; so this is my urgent appeal," Ban told reporters.

UN Security Council diplomats said communications between the Syrian government and the United Nations had been severely cut back. They added that the chemical weapons inquiry was now likely to fall victim to divisions on the 15-nation council.

Russia and China have blocked three council resolutions intended to increase pressure on Assad over the conflict, including by threatening sanctions.

But with the conflict worsening - well over 70 000 people have now been killed - the international showdown over the conflict has also deteriorated. Ban has blamed the divisions for the failure to make progress on a negotiated settlement to the war.

"It is obvious that the Security Council is going to go nowhere on Syria. It is totally blocked," said a senior council envoy.

Read more on:    un  |  bashar assad  |  ban ki-moon  |  syria  |  syria conflict

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
22 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.