News / Middle East

UN Weapons Inspectors to Leave Syria by Saturday

A U.N. chemical weapons expert, wearing a gas mask, holds a plastic bag containing samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Ain Tarma neighborhood of Damascus, Syria, Aug. 29, 2013.
A U.N. chemical weapons expert, wearing a gas mask, holds a plastic bag containing samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Ain Tarma neighborhood of Damascus, Syria, Aug. 29, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Edward Yeranian
— With the eyes of the international community fixed on their work, U.N. chemical weapons investigators carried out their third inspection Thursday in a probe of an alleged chemical weapons attack last week. It came as the U.N. chief urged world powers to hold off on possible military action against Syria  until the team finishes its work.

The weapons inspectors have now made three visits to rebel-held suburbs of the capital this week - with a convoy of white U.N. vehicles travelling to the suburbs of Douma and Zamalka on Thursday. The visit follows initial inspections to Zamalka and Mleiha Wednesday, and one to Madhamiya on Monday.

Witnesses told Arab satellite channels that the inspectors took blood and tissue samples from survivors of alleged chemical weapons attacks last week. An opposition activist told Arabiya TV that most of the bodies from those attacks were “buried immediately afterwards, due to the lack of a refrigerated morgue.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told journalists in Vienna that the inspectors would leave Syria by Saturday. He said that the team will give him a report at the end of their two-week mission, originally scheduled to investigate previous alleged chemical attacks near Aleppo last March.

The Syrian government kept the U.N. inspectors waiting in Cyprus for days, while it argued over details of their mission, including which sites they could visit. Evidence in chemical weapons attacks deteriorates within hours, making it difficult to assess what took place.

Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Jaafari was quoted on Syrian state TV as saying that the U.S. and its Western allies were trying to pressure the inspectors into reaching a hasty conclusion by threatening military action:

He said the Syrian government would like to see the team continue its work freely and objectively and without any political or military pressure. He says a military threat against Syria aims to prevent the inspectors from carrying out their work and influence their conclusions.

The Syrian foreign ministry granted inspectors a two-week period to investigate alleged chemical attacks, with the possibility of extending that period by another two weeks if both parties agreed. It appears unlikely, however, that the U.N. will ask for an extension.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, meanwhile, said Thursday that his country would “combat any outside aggression that it was facing.”

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid