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Chemical Weapons Inspectors Return to Syria

UN chemical weapons inspectors to probe three cases of suspected chemical weapons use.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 9/25/2013, 8:33 PM

Ake Sellstrom stands outside a military hospital in Damascus
Ake Sellstrom stands outside a military hospital in Damascus
Reuters

UN chemical weapons inspectors returned to Syria on Wednesday, to continue investigating allegations of chemical weapons use in the country’s two-and-a-half-year conflict.

A convoy of five United Nations cars carrying at least eight members of the team arrived at a central Damascus hotel shortly before midday, witnesses told the Reuters news agency.

Last week, the UN team submitted a report which confirmed the use of sarin nerve agent in an August 21 poison gas attack outside the Syrian capital.

At the time of the August 21 attack, the inspectors had been in Damascus preparing to investigate three earlier cases of suspected chemical weapons use, including one in March in the northern town of Khan al-Assal.

Ake Sellstrom, the head of the inspection team, said last week the inspectors would return to Syria to investigate the other suspected cases.

President Bashar Al-Assad’s Western opponents said the inspectors’ report on the August 21 attack left little doubt that his forces were to blame for the attack.

Syrian authorities denied the accusation, saying it made no sense for them to wage an attack with chemical weapons when their forces were making advances and while the inspectors were staying just a few miles away in the center of the capital.

Russia has also said the inspectors’ report did not provide irrefutable proof that Assad’s forces were responsible, and that Damascus had provided information it said showed rebels were behind the attack.

The United Nations subsequently hit back at the Russian claims, saying that the “terrible facts speak for themselves" and insisting that that UN leader Ban Ki-moon has the "fullest confidence" in the inspecting team.

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