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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid