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Syria to UN: Look into chemical attack

Published: 3/21/13 @ 12:00


Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS

Syria asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday to appoint an independent mission to investigate a purported chemical weapons attack that the regime has blamed on rebels in northern Syria.

The rebels have denied the government claim and blamed regime forces for Tuesday’s missile attack on Khan al-Assal village in northern Aleppo province. The Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition group, also demanded an international investigation Wednesday.

France’s U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud, who raised the issue in the U.N. Security Council late Wednesday, said the Syrian National Coalition has alleged that there was a second chemical weapons attack Tuesday in the Damascus area and it should be investigated.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, whose country has close ties to the Syrian government, accused France and its Western supporters of “launching propaganda balloons” and trying to delay an investigation of the Aleppo incident.

Syria’s U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari said he was “not aware of a second attack.” He said the allegation was “set up to torpedo the investigation of the real use of chemical weapons” in Aleppo.

Even though there was no Security Council agreement, the French and British said they plan to send a letter to the secretary- general asking him to investigate both reported attacks, signed by as many of the 15 council members as possible.

The dispute reflected the deep divisions that have prevented the Security Council from taking any action to end Syria’s violence.

Ja’afari told reporters Wednesday morning that the Syrian government asked the secretary-general “to form a specialized, independent and neutral technical mission to investigate the use by the terrorist groups operating in Syria of chemical weapons yesterday against civilians in the town of Khan al-Assal in Aleppo.”

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Ban has received a written request from Syrian authorities and it is being studied.