UN team in Syria to complete probe

Damascus, Sep 25 (IANS) The UN chemical weapons investigation team returned to Syria Wednesday to complete its probe into the alleged chemical weapons use in the country, reported Xinhua.

The fact-finding group was assembled in The Hague in early August. Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom, a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, was asked by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to set up the group in March.

The team arrived in Syria at the request of the Syrian government Aug 18 and inspected some locations in the countryside of the capital Damascus for the use of chemical weapons.

The team left Syria Aug 30 to analyse initial findings after which they affirmed the use of nerve agent Sarin in the eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus, which allegedly killed hundreds of people.

The rebels and the Syrian government have been trading accusations over the responsibility for the attack.

UN officials had Tuesday said the team would return to complete its investigation.

In a statement, the UN said the investigation would include gathering evidence from an alleged chemical weapons attack March 19 in the town of Khan al-Assal in Syria's northern province of Aleppo, which was captured by the rebels in July.

The Syrian government accused the rebels of staging the Khan al-Assal attack and urged the UN to send an investigation team.

Damascus, in a bid to strip Washington of its pretext to launch a war, has announced that it would surrender its chemical weapons stockpiles to the international community and join the chemical weapons treaty which prohibits manufacturing, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons.

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