A United Nations inspection team is in Cyprus and ready to deploy to nearby Syria to probe the alleged use of chemical weapons in the bloody conflict that has engulfed the country, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday.
"I can announce today that an advance team is now in Cyprus for the final stage" before the mission heads to Syria, Ban said in The Hague. "We are ready."
Ban said at the opening of the third review of the Chemical Weapons Convention at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that they still needed the Syrian regime's go-ahead.
"The UN is now in the position to deploy in Syria -- in less than 24 hours all logistical arrangements will in place," Ban said after President Bashar al-Assad called on the UN to probe allegations rebels had used chemical weapons.
"All we are waiting for is the go-ahead of the Syrian government to determine if any chemical weapons have been deployed," Ban said.
"We are still in the process of discussing it with the Syrian government."
The full team will consist of 15 experts, including inspectors, medical experts and chemists.
Israel has repeatedly expressed concern that Syria's chemical arsenal could fall into the hands of anti-Israel terrorists such as Hizbullah, or an Al Qaeda-linked group fighting with the rebels.