Chemical weapons investigators to return to Syria on Wednesday – UN spokesperson

Ake Sellström, head of the UN technical mission to investigate the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe (file photo)

24 September 2013 – The United Nations team probing the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria will return to the country on Wednesday to complete its investigation of pending credible allegations, including the 19 March incident at Khan al-Asal, a spokesperson for the world body said today.

Formally known as the Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, the team – led by Swedish scientist Dr. Åke Sellström – was established by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in March of this year.

The team, assisted by experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), visited the country last month and found “clear and convincing evidence” that Sarin gas was used in an incident that occurred on 21 August in the Ghouta area on the outskirts of Damascus in which hundreds of people were reportedly killed.

In recent weeks, Syria has acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention. As for information about Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles, the UN spokesperson noted that OPCW has not shared such information with the UN investigation team.

The responsibility of verifying the inventory and elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles belongs with the OPCW, the spokesperson stated, adding that this task is beyond the scope of the UN team’s mandate, which is to investigate allegations of the use of chemical weapons.


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