UNITED NATIONS: A UN mission to investigate alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war tentatively plans to enter the country tomorrow, officials said yesterday.
The team, consisting of weapons experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, plans to look into claims of use of sarin gas and other toxic nerve agents.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday details of the trip had been worked out with the Syrian government and that the team’s departure was imminent.
An official said yesterday the team would cross into Syria tomorrow, assuming security conditions permitted. A diplomat in the region confirmed the timetable.
One site to be visited by the UN experts is Khan Al Assal in Aleppo, where the Syrian government says rebels used chemical weapons in March.
Two other locations have not yet been identified and may be too dangerous for the team to visit, the official said.
The Syrian government and the opposition have accused each other of using chemical weapons during the two-year conflict, and both have denied it. The UN inquiry will try to establish only whether chemical weapons were used, not who used them.
The United States said in June it had concluded that Assad’s forces used chemical weapons against rebel fighters.
In Damascus, mortar fire by the Syrian army on the Mleha district southeast of the capital killed at least 14 civilians, four of them children, a watchdog said yesterday.
Thursday evening’s bombardment came as troops press a months-old offensive in the suburbs of Damascus in a bid to clear the region of rebel rear bases, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
At dawn on Friday, the army bombarded the rebel-held districts of Muadamiya al-Sham, southwest of the capital, and Yabrud and Rankus to its north, sparking clashes, the watchdog added.