UN hopes for early probe into alleged use of chemical weapons in Damascus

UN hopes for early probe into alleged use of chemical weapons in Damascus
# 22 August 2013 04:19 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. The United Nations on Wednesday voiced its hope that it could get full access and begin an early investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons in the suburbs of the Syrian capital of Damascus, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

"We see the need to investigate this as soon as possible," Deputy UN Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told reporters after he briefed a closed-door emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Syria.

"We very much hope, that we will be able to conduct the investigation," Eliasson said outside the Security Council Chamber, where he briefed the 15-nation UN body on behalf of the secretary- general.

The closed-door meeting, which began here at around 3:20 p.m. EDT (1920 GMT) on Wednesday, was held at the request of council members France, Britain, the United States, Luxembourg and South Korea, diplomats said.

Earlier on Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that he was "shocked to hear the reports of the alleged use today of chemical weapons in the suburbs of Damascus."

The main Syrian opposition group accused the Syrian government of using the chemical weapons on Wednesday in the east suburbs of Damascus, which the opposition claimed has killed as many as 1,300 people. The Syrian government denied the accusations.

The alleged chemical weapons attack took place just two days after a group of UN inspectors began an investigation into alleged use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict.

The UN team of inspectors was set up at the request of the Syrian government in March and it is headed by Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom, former UN weapons inspector in Iraq.

The UN fact-finding group will investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons reported by the government of Syria at Khan al- Assal as well as two other allegations reported by member states.

The Syrian government and rebels blame each other for a purported chemical weapons attack on Khan al-Asal on March 19 that killed at least 25 people and wounded 130 others.

"Dr. Sellstrom and his team are in place in Damascus and we hope that they will be given access to the area by the government, that is requirement of consent in situations like this and also the security situation will allow them to enter the area," Eliasson said.

"It is a very dramatic situation and the security situation right now does not allow such access and that is why this should also be seen in the larger and broader perspective that there is a great need for cessation of hostilities."

"We need cessation of hostilities in this particular area but there is also a need for cessation of hostilities," he said.

"We must contain this conflict in order to see the effects and regional implications and possibility which needs to be investigated and this is being further underlined," he said.

The United States and several European countries have expressed fears that Syria's chemical weapons may "fall into the wrong hands" if the Syrian administration falls.

While Washington warns the Syrian forces' use of chemical weapons would be "a red line," the violation of which would trigger military intervention, Damascus repeatedly stressed "even if we had such weapons, we would not use them," and alleged the rebels might use chemical bombs against civilians to frame the government.

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