US calls for UN probe into Syria chemical attack claims

US calls for UN probe into Syria chemical attack claims

WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
US calls for UN probe into Syria chemical attack claims

In this citizen journalism image provided by the Media Office Of Douma City on Aug. 21, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Syrian man mourns over a dead body after an alleged poisonous gas attack fired by regime forces. AP Photo / Media Office Of Douma City

The United States on Aug. 21 demanded "immediate access" for United Nations inspectors to the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack by government forces on civilians in Syria.

"We are working urgently to gather additional information," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest in a statement expressing deep concern over the reports.

"Today, we are formally requesting that the United Nations urgently investigate this new allegation," Earnest said, saying a U.N. team in the country was ready to move.

"For the UN's efforts to be credible, they must have immediate access to witnesses and affected individuals, and have the ability to examine and collect physical evidence without any interference or manipulation from the Syrian government."

"If the Syrian government has nothing to hide and is truly committed to an impartial and credible investigation of chemical weapons use in Syria, it will facilitate the UN team's immediate and unfettered access to this site."

Syria's main opposition group earlier accused the government of "massacring" more than 1,300 people in chemical weapons attacks near Damascus on Wednesday, saying many of the victims choked to death.

The UN team is in Syria to probe previous allegations of chemical weapons strikes leveled against both sides during the 29-month conflict.