UN Inspectors in Turkey to Investigate Syria Chemical Weapons Use

Unable to enter Syria, the team tries to gather information on possible chemical weapons use in the war-torn country.

Reuters
Reuters
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Reuters
Reuters

UN-appointed inspectors, blocked from entering Syria, are in Turkey to gather information about possible use of chemical weapons in the civil war, officials said on Thursday.

Members of the team assembled by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had been on standby in Cyprus since April, unable to enter Syria as Western governments accused President Bashar Assad's forces of chemical weapons attacks.

They were sent to Turkey this week and its head, Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, was meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday, a senior Turkish official told Reuters.

The Syrian government and rebels fighting it have accused each other of using lethal chemical agents, including sarin gas, in the two-year-old conflict.

More than 100,000 people have been killed since fighting began in March 2011 in what is the longest and most violent of the recent Arab uprisings, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Western governments have grown frustrated that the UN mission has been unable to make progress on investigating the claims, a diplomat told Reuters.

From Turkey, the team will be unable to gather soil samples or scientific evidence needed to prove chemical use, but could compile intelligence and interview or take blood samples from witnesses or victims of alleged attacks.

"As he cannot travel to Syria, Sellstrom visits countries like Turkey, France and Britain that have some information about possible use of chemical weapons in Syria," said the Turkish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Sellstrom visited the Turkey-Syria border area and talked to officials who shared data on chemical weapons use, he said.

Syria is one of seven countries that has not joined the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention but is believed to have significant stockpiles of undeclared chemical weapons, including mustard, sarin and VX nerve agents.

Assad's government has rejected as lies assertions by the United States, Britain and France that its forces have used chemical weapons several times against Syrian citizens. It said the claims were an attempt to justify foreign military intervention.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon making a press statement about the investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, March 21, 2013.Credit: AFP

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott