Demonstrators calling for help from Barack Obama on the Syrian revolution outside the White House on August 21, 2013
Demonstrators calling for help from US President Obama on the Syrian revolution protest in front of the White House on August 21, 2013, in Washington, DC. The United Nations formally asked the Syrian government Thursday to authorize UN experts to investigate a reported chemical attack with mass casualties near Damascus, a spokesman said. © Paul J. Richards - AFP/File
Demonstrators calling for help from Barack Obama on the Syrian revolution outside the White House on August 21, 2013
AFP
Last updated: August 23, 2013

Syria asked to okay UN chemical attack probe

The United Nations formally asked the Syrian government Thursday to authorize UN experts to investigate a reported chemical attack with mass casualties near Damascus, a spokesman said.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also has decided to send Angela Kane, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs to Damascus, UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey said.

Damascus had agreed at the end of July, following an earlier visit by Kane, to allow UN experts to investigate three other sites where chemical weapons attacks were alleged to have taken place.

"The secretary-general believes that the incidents reported yesterday need to be investigated without delay," del Buey said in a statement.

"The secretary-general now calls for the mission, presently in Damascus, to be granted permission and access to swiftly investigate the incident which occurred on the morning of 21 August 2013.

"A formal request is being sent by the United Nations to the government of Syria in this regard. He expects to receive a positive response without delay," del Buey said.

The UN chief also called for a cessation of hostilities so humanitarian aid could reach the victims of the fighting.

The UN spokesman gave no details on when Kane would travel.

UN officials said the head of the UN experts team in Damascus, Ake Sellstrom of Sweden, has already begun negotiations with the Syrian authorities.

The UN Security Council on Wednesday supported the UN demand for an investigation, stressing that a "thorough, impartial and prompt investigation" was needed to shed light on the incident.

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