UN to launch Syria chemical inquiry
UNITED NATIONS - Agence France-Presse
A Syrian man and his family drives past damaged buildings in Idlib. AFP photoThe United Nations will launch an independent investigation into whether chemical weapons have been used in the Syria conflict, U.N. leader Ban Ki-Moon said yesterday.
Ban said the “difficult mission” would focus on a Syrian government allegation that opposition rebels fired chemical weapons missiles in an attack this week.
The Syrian government has accused opposition rebels of using chemical weapons in an attack at Khan al-Assal near Aleppo on March 19. The opposition said the government staged the attack and also used banned chemical weapons in another incident near Damascus. “I have decided to conduct a U.N. investigation into the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria,” Ban told reporters in his office. The U.N. leadership is working with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which oversees the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the World Health Organization to set up the inquiry. “The investigation mission is to look into the specific incident brought to my attention by the Syrian government,” he said.
Diplomats and U.N. officials have stressed that still no formal proof has been given that chemical weapons were used by either side. U.S. ambassador Susan Rice said the United States also “supports an investigation that pursues any and all credible allegations of the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria.” Russia’s U.N. ambassador Vitaly Churkin welcomed the announcement made by Ban calling it “a very good, courageous decision.”