News / Middle East

UN Chemical Weapons Team Visits Damascus Suburb

UN Chemical Weapons Team Visits Damascus Suburbi
X
August 26, 2013 5:35 PM
United Nations inspectors spent several hours Monday in a Damascus suburb, to meet with victims of suspected chemical weapon attacks before returning to their hotel in the capital. Meanwhile, the international community is weighing options for a possible response to the attacks that activists say were carried out by the Syrian government. Rebels and activists say government forces used chemical weapons that killed hundreds of people in several neighborhoods last week. The government denies the allegations and has accused the rebels of using such weapons. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.

UN Chemical Weapons Team Visits Damascus Suburb

VOA News
U.N. inspectors have visited a Damascus suburb to meet victims of suspected chemical weapon attacks, after the Syrian government accepted international demands to grant access to the team.

The inspectors spent several hours in the southwestern suburb of Moadamiyeh on Monday, before returning to their hotel in the capital. Moadamiyeh is one of several rebel-held districts where the August 21 attacks took place.

The U.N. team met with doctors and survivors of the attacks at a makeshift hospital and took samples. U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said the inspectors were satisfied with the meetings and planned to make another visit to an attack site on Tuesday. 

Syrian rebels and the government have blamed one another for the killings of hundreds of civilians in the incidents.

Western powers say they believe forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were responsible.  Leaders of the United States, Britain and France have been discussing what action to take in response, raising the prospect of Western military intervention in Syria's two-year conflict.

The foreign minister of Russia, a key Assad ally, said Western powers "cannot produce any evidence" that the Syrian government committed the alleged chemical attacks.

Speaking Monday, Sergei Lavrov accused the West of "hysteria" and warned that any military action against Damascus would be a "gross violation of international law."

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said any action will be taken "in concert with the international community and within the framework of legal justification."  He made the comment on a visit to Indonesia.

The highest concentration of casualties from last Wednesday's attacks was reported in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta. It was not clear when the U.N. team would visit that location.

As the inspectors arrived in Moadamiyeh, snipers fired at one of their vehicles, damaging it and forcing the team to return to a government checkpoint before heading inside the rebel district.  No one was hurt.  The Syrian government and rebels accused one another of responsibility.

Earlier Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the success of the U.N. inspectors' mission could deter the future use of chemical weapons in Syria and elsewhere.

"All those in Syria have a stake in finding out the truth.  The whole world should be concerned about any threat or use of chemical weapons, and that is why the world is watching Syria," he said.

A senior Obama administration official said Sunday the U.N. team may not be able to accomplish much because the Syrian government prevented the inspectors from visiting the alleged attack sites for five days.

The official said the delay meant available evidence had been "significantly corrupted as a result of the regime's persistent shelling and other intentional actions."

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous from: Russia!
August 26, 2013 2:28 PM
Hands off from Syria!


by: Igor from: Russia
August 26, 2013 12:02 PM
Western powers say they believe forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were responsible but they have no evidence. So their belief is groundless. Any of their military action ag,ainst Syria can be considered a crime and must be punished by Russia and its allies. It is high time for Russia to teach the USA and its allies a never-to-be-forgotten leason.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid