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

    UN Observes International Day of Peacekeepers

    The U.N. honors 3,400 peacekeepers killed since first mission in 1948

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora