U.N. Calls on Syria to Allow Chemical Weapons Probe
Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon is calling on Syria to allow a team of experts into the country "without delay and without any conditions" to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use.
A recent U.S. intelligence report which indicated Syria has twice used chemical weapons should be taken seriously, the U.N. chief said on Monday.
Syria has said that it wants any investigation limited to an incident near Aleppo in March. The U.N., however, says a broader investigation, including a December incident in Homs, is needed.
Addressing a news conference, Mr. Ban stood alongside Swedish chemical weapons expert Ake Sellstrom, who heads the team, which he praised for its "integrity and independence and professionalism."
The U.N. team is already gathering and analyzing available evidence, The Associated Press reports.
Mr. Ban said onsite activities are essential if the U.N. is to establish the facts and "clear all the doubts."
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a former Israeli defense minister alleged on Monday that Syria’s chemical weapons are "trickling" to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
He also called for international intervention in the Syria’s civil war to stop mass civilian deaths, telling the Associated Press: "The process of weapon transferal to Hezbollah has begun."
His comments echo Israel’s concern that Syria’s chemical arsenal could fall into the hands of anti-Israel militants like Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an Assad ally, or an al Qaeda-linked group fighting with the rebels.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that militants getting chemical arms or other sophisticated weapons is a red line that could trigger military action.
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