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

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid