News / Middle East

    Syria Insecurity Delays UN Chemical Inspection

    Image taken from AP Television shows a UN vehicle leaving the Four Seasons Hotel in Damascus, Syria, Aug. 27, 2013.
    Image taken from AP Television shows a UN vehicle leaving the Four Seasons Hotel in Damascus, Syria, Aug. 27, 2013.
    VOA News
    U.N. investigators have suspended visits to suspected chemical attack sites in Damascus suburbs for one day because of security concerns.

    A U.N. statement said the team had planned to inspect one of the rebel-held suburbs on Tuesday after traveling to another affected district, Moadamiyeh, the day before. That visit was marred by sniper fire on a U.N. vehicle.

    The United Nations said an assessment of the sniper fire determined that the team should wait until Wednesday before conducting another inspection, in order to "improve preparedness and safety."

    The Syrian government and rebels blamed each other for the sniper attack, which damaged the U.N. vehicle but caused no casualties.

    MAP: Suspected chemical weapon attack sites, DamascusMAP: Suspected chemical weapon attack sites, Damascus
    x
    MAP: Suspected chemical weapon attack sites, Damascus
    MAP: Suspected chemical weapon attack sites, Damascus
    Insecurity Delays UN Team's Chemical Inspection in Syria

    U.N. investigators have suspended visits to suspected chemical attack sites in Damascus suburbs for one day because of security concerns.

    A U.N. statement said the team had planned to inspect one of the rebel-held suburbs on Tuesday after traveling to another affected district, Moadamiyeh, the day before. That visit was marred by sniper fire on a U.N. vehicle.

    The United Nations said an assessment of the sniper fire determined that the team should wait until Wednesday before conducting another inspection, in order to "improve preparedness and safety."

    The Syrian government and rebels blamed each other for the sniper attack, which damaged the U.N. vehicle but caused no casualties.

    Both sides also accuse each other of responsibility for the apparent use of poison gas to kill of hundreds of civilians in the Damascus suburbs last Wednesday.

    Story continues beneath photo gallery
    • In this citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, Syrians search under rubble to rescue people from houses that were destroyed by a Syrian government warplane in Idlib province, August 30, 2013.
    • In this citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, smoke rises after explosives were dropped by a Syrian government warplane in Idlib province, August 30, 2013.
    • In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, U.N. investigators gather potential evidence in a Damascus suburb, August 28, 2013.
    • This citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen shows Syrians moving a man who was allegedly exposed to chemical weapons to show him to U.N. investigators in a Damascus suburb, August 28, 2013.
    • This citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen shows U.N. investigators in a suburb of Damascus, August 28, 2013.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters carry their weapons as they escort U.N. vehicles carrying chemical weapons experts at the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb, August 28, 2013.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters deploy in Aleppo's town of Khanasir after seizing it, August 26, 2013.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters inspect munitions and a tank that belonged to forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after they seized Khanasir, August 26, 2013.
    • A U.N. chemical weapons expert gathers evidence at site of an alleged poison gas attack in a southwestern Damascus suburb, August 26, 2013.
    • An image grab taken from a video posted by Syrian activists purportedly shows a U.N. inspector speaking to a man in a Damascus suburb, August 26, 2013.
    • U.N. chemical weapons experts visit a hospital where wounded people affected by a suspected gas attack are being treated, in a southwestern Damascus suburb, August 26, 2013.

    Western powers have vowed to hold the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accountable for the August 21 killings, raising the prospect of their first armed intervention in Syria's two-year conflict.

    But Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Tuesday that the government will defend itself against any attack and surprise its enemies.

    He also warned that Western attacks on Syria would serve the interests of its foe, Israel, and al-Qaida militants who Damascus blames for much of the country's violence.

    U.S. officials said a decision on Washington's response could come later this week. Members of the main opposition Syrian National Coalition told Western news agencies that Western envoys briefed them on plans to strike the Assad government "within days."

    British Prime Minister David Cameron instructed Parliament to return from its summer recess on Thursday to decide on a response to the alleged Syrian government chemical assault.  He said any action against the Syria government would be legal, proportionate and specific.

    Mr. Cameron also said any action would be a response to the use of chemical weapons, and would not be intended to draw Western powers further into the Syrian conflict.

    French President Francois Hollande says his country is ready to punish those who made the "vile" decision to gas innocent people. He also promised France would increase its military support to the main Syrian opposition group.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a "forceful" response if Syria makes any attempt to attack Israel.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu denounced the Syrian government's alleged chemical weapon attacks near Damascus as a "crime against humanity" and said it must "not go unanswered."

    Arab League diplomats concluded a meeting in Cairo by blaming the Syrian government for the August 21 killings and calling for the perpetrators to face justice.

    But Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said her nation, a close ally of Washington, will not take part in any military action against Syria without a U.N. Security Council mandate. The Italian military's resources have been under strain from its longtime deployment of troops in Afghanistan.

    China's state news agency Xinhua also cautioned against a rush to Western military action. In a commentary published Tuesday, it said the world should remember that the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq followed U.S. allegations that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Those weapons were never found.

    In another development, Moscow's Interfax news agency said a Russian government cargo plane landed in the Syrian port of Latakia on Tuesday with 20 tons of humanitarian aid for Syria's war-weary people. It said the plane also will evacuate 180 people, more than 100 of them Russians, from the country.

    Moscow, a key ally of the Assad government, also has warned against Western intervention in Syria. In a Twitter message posted on Tuesday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin accused Western powers of behaving in the Islamic world "like a monkey with a grenade."

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: us from: us
    August 27, 2013 8:22 AM
    Hmmm. I wonder if this is another made up story to get involved in yet another war. US stealing more natural resources?
    In Response

    by: IowaMan from: Iowa
    August 27, 2013 10:16 AM
    In a word, No

    by: Anonymous
    August 27, 2013 6:24 AM
    Hmmm, I wonder if the chemicals used in Syria were purchased from Mr Putin?
    In Response

    by: leeway777 from: NY US
    August 27, 2013 12:46 PM
    Assad’s godfather—Putin would not allow him to use chemical weapons. Assad knows that Russia has to leave him to die alone for the moral issue if he uses chemical weapon. Nobody dares to support “chemical Assad” to take the stones. Iranian are laughing at US now. “Hahaha, thanks for killing Saddam! He has chemo” Will Al Qaida be laughing at US? “Hahaha, thanks for killing Assad! He uses chemo”

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora