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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora