UN chemical investigation team arrives in Syria

Damascus, Aug 18 : The UN chemical investigation team arrived in the Syrian capital Sunday to start a 14-day mission aimed at probing alleged use of chemical weapons in conflict-stricken areas.

The team, comprising about 10 experts, arrived at the Four Seasons hotel in five UN SUVs and checked in without making any statement, reported Xinhua.

The fact-finding group was assembled in The Hague in early August. Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom, a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, was asked by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to set up the group in March. The UN decision was made at the request of the Syrian government.

The probe will kick off based on a UN-Syria agreement reached in late July, which allows the investigators access to Khan al-Asal and two other sites.

At least 25 people were killed and 130 others wounded on March 19 when armed men fired a rocket stuffed with chemical materials in Khan al-Asal.

The locations of the two other incidents "are being kept confidential as a safety and security precaution", UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters here early this month.

The Syrian government and the opposition have accused each other of using chemical weapons, while both have denied it.

--IANS (Posted on 18-08-2013)

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