News / Middle East

Syria Asks UN to Probe Alleged Rebel Chemical Weapon Use

Margaret Besheer
The Syrian government has requested that the U.N. Secretary-General establish an independent inquiry to investigate its claims that armed opposition groups used chemical weapons in an attack in the province of Aleppo on Tuesday.

The letter dated Wednesday from Syria's foreign minister to U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon alleges that an “armed terrorist group” - the term the government uses for the opposition - launched a missile into a populated area of Aleppo which exploded spreading a “dense smoke” and causing “scores” of deaths and injuries to civilians and soldiers.

The letter asks Ban to establish a “specialized, impartial, independent mission” to investigate this incident in which it says that chemical weapons were used.

At the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, British Deputy Ambassador Philip Parham told journalists that he and the French ambassador raised reports of chemical weapons attacks in Syria with the 15-nation council.

While the government's letter refers to only one incident, the British envoy pointed out that the opposition National Coalition said there were two incidents on Tuesday- the one in Aleppo and another in Damascus -- both of which the opposition claims were carried out by the government.

“Clearly if chemical weapons have been used, this will be abhorrent, it will be very grave, it will warrant a serious response by the international community and it will force us to revisit the approach we have been taking so far. But the facts are not clear at the moment and this is the whole point. The point that we raised in the Security Council -- the facts need to be clarified,” Parham said.

The British and French envoys said they would send a letter to Ban Ki-moon signed by other council members who are of like mind asking the secretary-general to establish a “swift, thorough and impartial investigation” of any reports of chemical weapons use in Syria.

President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the United States will thoroughly investigate reports of chemical weapons use in Syria, but that his administration is "deeply skeptical" of claims that rebel forces were behind such an attack.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin expressed support for the Syrian government's requested investigation, but he was skeptical about a second attack, referring to “rumors” and suggesting his Western colleagues are trying to delay an investigation by sending up “propaganda balloons” about another chemical attack and urging investigation of other issues, such as humanitarian access.

When questioned about a broader investigation into chemical weapons in Syria, Ambassador Churkin said he raised the “specter of Iraq” saying similar investigations a decade ago in that country led to “certain developments”. Those developments were a U.S.-led invasion of the country on allegations of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction that ultimately turned out to be false.

The Russian envoy, whose government is close to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, also expressed concern that the opposition may be motivated to fabricate stories of chemical weapons use.

“We have expressed very clearly and openly our concern that they [ie, chemical weapons] may be taken hold of by the opposition or the opposition and various opposition groups may manufacture something in order to demonstrate a chemical weapons attack because some of our international colleagues have been saying very loudly that that would be a 'game changer'. And of course, one would not be surprised if some members of armed opposition groups would want the game to change,” Churkin said.

Syria has never confirmed that it possesses chemical weapons, but has said if it does have them it would only use them if attacked by a foreign aggressor and not against its own people.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Michael from: USA
March 21, 2013 8:54 AM
Take the proposition A: "If chemical weapons have been used this will be abhorrent" and B: The world should petition the Pope for peace.
Proposition "A" would not be admitted into evidence in court, and B would not be admitted by the average citizen


by: Steve from: hell, mi
March 20, 2013 10:14 PM
Syria wants the UN to find the planted evidence against the rebels in the attacks.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid