UN Inspectors Hand In Report on Syria
The United Nations said on Sunday that its chief chemical weapons inspector has turned over his team's report on last month's alleged poison gas attack in Syria to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said, according to the Associated Press, that the report was transmitted Sunday and the secretary-general will brief a closed session of the UN Security Council on its contents Monday morning.
Ban will also brief the 193-member General Assembly later that day, said Nesirky.
The inspection team led by Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom was mandated to report on whether chemical weapons were used in the August 21 attack in the Damascus suburbs and, if so, which chemical agents were used.
The team was not, however, mandated to determine who was responsible for the attack. The regime has blamed the rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad for the attack, while the rebels have blamed Assad’s army.
Ban said Friday that he believes there will be "an overwhelming report" that chemical weapons were used in the attack.
Over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reached a deal on a framework for securing Syria's chemical weapons, according to which Syria's chemical weapons must be destroyed or removed by mid-2014.
The deal seems to avert, at least for now, a planned U.S. strike in Syria. However, President Barack Obama declared in a weekend interview that his country is still prepared to act militarily to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, despite the decision to hold back on striking Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons.
On Sunday, Kerry warned Syria that it was not off the hook following the deal to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile.
Assad denied last week that the deal was agreed in order to avert a U.S. military strike on his regime.
"Syria is placing its chemical weapons under international control because of Russia. The US threats did not influence the decision," Russian news agency Interfax quoted Assad as saying during an interview with state-run channel Russia 24.