UN chemical weapons team arrives in Syria
A team of the United Nations chemical weapons inspectors has arrived in the Syrian capital, Damascus, to begin its investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons in the country.
The 20-member UN team, led by arms expert Ake Sellstrom of Sweden and UN disarmament chief, Angela Kane, arrived on Sunday at the Four Season Hotel in Damascus.
During the mission, which is expected to last for two weeks, the team is to investigate Khan al-Assal area, near Aleppo. Two other sites are also to be investigated.
The arrival of the experts comes just days after Syria’s Foreign Ministry said it will fully cooperate with the UN team of chemical weapons inspectors.
"The secretary general believes that an effective mechanism to investigate allegations of the use of chemical weapons can serve as an important deterrent against their employment," the UN said in a statement.
The team is to look into the use of sarin gas and other toxic nerve agents.
On August 16, citing an unnamed official, Reuters reported that the team consists of inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Damascus and foreign-backed militants fighting to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad have accused each other of using chemical weapons.
Washington and its allies, such as the UK and France, have also accused Damascus of using chemical weapons.
Syria has categorically denied the allegations, saying Takfiris have used chemical weapons on several occasions, including an attack in the region of Khan al-Assal in Aleppo Province on March 19, where over two dozen people died.
This is while a Russian-led inquiry revealed that militants had carried out a chemical attack in Khan al-Assal in March.
Syria has been gripped by a deadly unrest since March 2011.
The United Nations says more than 100,000 people have been killed and a total of 7.8 million others displaced since the outbreak of the violence.
According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.