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UN Chief Proposes Team to Investigate Chemical Attacks in Syria

FILE - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
FILE - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has proposed the creation of a three-person team to investigate chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

In a letter to the Security Council on Thursday, Ban said the independent panel would try to identify those responsible for using chlorine and other chemical weapons in attacks in Syria.

Earlier this month, the council unanimously adopted a resolution calling for an investigative body to determine who is responsible for the attacks, which have killed or injured many civilians.

In 2013, the United States and Russia jointly demanded that Syria get rid of its chemical weapons to avoid what would almost certainly have been a U.S. military strike in response to a poison gas attack on civilians in Damascus. But the attacks have continued, and there are concerns that Syria is using other toxic agents such as chlorine gas.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has strongly denied using chemical weapons. He blames such attacks on rebels fighting to overthrow his government.

Russia, a major Assad ally, opposes assigning blame for the attacks and has vetoed several Security Council resolutions critical of Syria.

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