Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

UN begins chemical arms investigation

Key claim in Syrian conflict

  • Print
UN experts arrived in Syria Sunday to investigate claims chemical weapons have been used in the country's conflict.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge Image

UN experts arrived in Syria Sunday to investigate claims chemical weapons have been used in the country's conflict.

BEIRUT -- A team of United Nations experts arrived Sunday in Syria to launch a long-delayed investigation of allegations from both sides in the nation's conflict chemical weapons have been deployed on the battlefield.

The so-far unverified charges of chemical weapons' use have become an incendiary component of the larger global debate about the bloody Syrian conflict, now in its third year with no end in sight.

The 20-member UN technical team, headed by Ake Sellstrom, a Swedish scientist, arrived in Damascus in a convoy of UN vehicles and was whisked inside a five-star hotel under tight security, according to news accounts from the Syrian capital.

The inspectors are slated to visit three sites in Syria where chemical weapons have allegedly been used.

The UN team is operating under a limited mandate to verify whether chemical arms were deployed, but not to apportion blame to either side. That narrow scope of work was hammered out after months of wrangling involving Syria and other UN member nations.

Some outside observers have questioned the inquiry's prospective effectiveness given the restricted mandate and the fact some of the alleged chemical attacks occurred months ago. The state of any physical evidence remaining is a major question mark. But UN officials have said the investigation will provide a baseline of facts and possibly serve as a deterrent to future chemical strikes.

For months, unverified video clips showing purported victims choking, foaming at the mouth and displaying other possible symptoms of chemical attacks in Syria have made their way onto YouTube. Some journalists have interviewed alleged victims of chemical attacks in Syria.

Each side in the conflict has accused the other of using chemical weapons. Outside nations backing the government or the rebels have gotten involved, generally backing their ally's version of events. U.S. President Barack Obama has declared a chemical attack would be a "red line" that could trigger U.S. intervention in Syria.

The Syrian military is known to possess a considerable stockpile of chemical weapons, according to international experts, though Damascus has never publicly acknowledged having such arms. President Bashar Assad's government has declared publicly it would never unleash such weapons against its own people, even if it did possess them.

The United States and its allies, France and England -- all strong backers of the Syrian opposition -- have cited confidential evidence indicating the Syrian government has deployed limited amounts of sarin, a nerve gas. Syrian authorities have vehemently denied the accusation.

Russia, a major ally of Assad, has said its investigation indicated it was the rebels who have deployed sarin gas manufactured in "cottage industry" conditions. The opposition says the Russians are mistaken.

 

-- Los Angeles Times

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 19, 2013 A11

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Family of Matias De Antonio speaks outside Law Courts

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Local-(Standup photo)- Humming Around- A female ruby -throated hummingbird fly's through the bee bomb  flowers Friday at the Assiniboine Park English Garden- Nectar from flowers are their main source of food. Hummingbirds wings can beat as fast as 75x times second. Better get a glimpse of them soon the birds fly far south for the winter - from Mexico to South America- JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS- Sept 10, 2009
  • Young goslings are growing up quickly near Cresent Lake in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba- See Bryksa 30 Day goose project- Day 11- May 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google