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Russia says probe into use of chemical weapons in Aleppo not started yet

September 04, 2013, 21:18 UTC+3

On August 28, U.N. experts visited Zamalka, an eastern suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus, where chemical weapons were allegedly used

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MOSCOW, September 4 (Itar-Tass) - The international investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Aleppo, a suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus, has not started in earnest yet, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday, September 4.

It said the report prepared by Russian exerts and handed over to the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would help determine all the circumstances of this incident.

On August 14, Syria agreed to receive U.N. inspectors for a probe into the alleged use of chemical weapons in the country. By agreement with the Syrian government they will investigate three such instances at the same time.

On August 28, U.N. experts visited Zamalka, an eastern suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus, where chemical weapons were allegedly used.

On the first day of their work on August 26, the U.N. inspectors took samples at the site of an alleged chemical attack and talked with survivor and witnesses.

The Team, led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, probed the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Government at Khan al-Asal, as well as two other allegations reported by Member States. The team was working in cooperation with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon (OPCW) and the U.N. World Health Organisation (WHO).

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the use of any chemical weapons in Syria would amount to a “crime against humanity” and there would be “serious consequences” for the perpetrators.

“Any use of chemical weapons anywhere, by anybody, under any circumstances, would violate international law,” he said. “Such a crime against humanity should result in serious consequences for the perpetrator.”

Ban said since the horrendous attacks in the Ghouta area of Damascus two weeks ago, the United Nations Mission led by Ake Sellstrom had been working urgently to establish the facts regarding the nature and extent of any use of chemical weapons.

He said the Mission had worked around the clock following its return from Syria to prepare the materials it gathered for analysis and announced that all biomedical and environmental samples would have arrived at the designated laboratories by September 4.

The Secretary-General said “we are doing our utmost to expedite the process” but at the same time he stressed the importance of “not jeopardising the scientific timelines required for accurate analysis.”

“As soon as the Mission has arrived at findings on the Ghouta incident, I will promptly report the results to Member States and to the Security Council,” Ban said, adding that as soon as it can, the Mission would return to Syria to complete its investigation and to prepare its final report.

He said it was “imperative to end this war” in Syria, which has already made more than 2 million refugees and 4.2 million Syrians displaced internally.

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