Daily Israel Report

Rebels to Cooperate with UN's Chemical Weapons Probe

Syrian opposition leaders offer UN inspectors unfettered access to investigate the use of chemical weapons.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 8/3/2013, 1:22 AM

Syria's opposition coalition meeting in Istanbul
Syria's opposition coalition meeting in Istanbul
AFP photo

Syrian opposition leaders said on Friday that United Nations inspectors would have "unfettered" access to areas under rebel control to investigate the use of chemical weapons, AFP reported.

The Syrian National Coalition said in a statement it wanted the inspectors to go first to the town of Khan al-Assal, where an attack with chemical weapons was reported on March 19.

The announcement came after the UN team, led by Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom, reached an agreement with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's government to enter the country.

The coalition said it had sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to reaffirm "its offer of full cooperation with the investigation team, particularly in assuring their unfettered access into liberated areas.

"As the Free Syrian Army has recently liberated the Khan al-Assal area, we urge the UN team to begin its investigation in this area and hope to welcome their arrival without any further delays," it added, according to AFP.

UN inspectors are expected to go to Syria as early as next week to carry out inspections at three sites where chemical weapons attacks have been reported.

The United Nations says Khan al-Assal, which is near the key city of Aleppo, is one of the three places where the Syrian government has agreed to allow inspections.

It has said the other two sites are being kept confidential for safety reasons.

The Syrian government and the opposition blame each other for the Khan al-Assal attack. Russia, a key ally of Syria, has also accused Syrian rebels of using sarin nerve gas, but the U.S. has dismissed these allegations.

The UN inspectors only have a mission to determine whether chemical weapons have been used in the 28-month-old conflict, not who staged the attack.

The UN says that Syria, Britain, France and the United States have informed it of 13 alleged chemical weapons attacks during the 28-month-old conflict.

The U.S. government, which has confirmed that the Syrian army used chemical weapons against rebel forces on multiple occasions, has said it will increase the “scope and scale” of its assistance to rebels in Syria in response.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)