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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN Experts to Return to Syria 'Within Weeks'

September 18, 2013

by VOA News

The chief U.N. chemical weapons inspector says his team will return to Syria "within weeks" to follow up on several more allegations of chemical weapons use.

Ake Sellstrom, head of the inspection team that went to Syria last month, said Wednesday the group will evaluate "allegations of chemical weapons use from both sides, but perhaps mainly from the Syrian government's side."

Sellstrom said there are 13 or 14 alleged incidents that "have to be investigated." He added that inspectors would not be addressing the question of who was responsible for the August 21 gas attack, in which the United States claims more than 1,400 people died.

Soon after Western countries said U.N. findings presented earlier this week implicated the Syrian regime in using sarin for that attack, Russia called the report "distorted."

Russian officials said Wednesday Syria provided new evidence that rebels were the ones who carried out the deadly attack last month outside Damascus.

Russian news agencies quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying the materials had been given to Russia. He met in Damascus Tuesday with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, and was due to hold talks Wednesday with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Ryabkov said Russia is disappointed by the U.N. report on the attack, saying it is incomplete and therefore "politicized, biased and one-sided."

Despite that disagreement, Russia, China, France, Britain and the United States have agreed to work toward a United Nations resolution governing the removal of Syria's chemical arsenal.

Diplomats from those countries, which make up the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, are due to gather again Wednesday to discuss the proposed resolution. Their main roadblock is whether to include the threat of military action to enforce the measure, which Russia and China have opposed.

Syria's deputy foreign minister said Wednesday his government is confident the United Nations will not adopt the resolution under Chapter VII, which could allow the use of force if Damascus does not uphold the disarmament plan.

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