UN monitoring Syrian chemical weapon situation 'carefully'

Published August 21st, 2013 - 05:43 GMT
A woman mourns over a body wrapped in shrouds laid out in a line on the ground with other victims which Syrian rebels claim were killed in a toxic gas attack by pro-government forces in eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21, 2013. (AFP/HO/Shaams News Network)
A woman mourns over a body wrapped in shrouds laid out in a line on the ground with other victims which Syrian rebels claim were killed in a toxic gas attack by pro-government forces in eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21, 2013. (AFP/HO/Shaams News Network)

The UN's chief chemical weapons inspector Ake Sellstrom is reported to be in discussions with the Syrian government over allegations that it launched a chemical weapons attack on a residential rebel-held area on Wednesday.

According to the Untied Nations, Sellstrom is monitoring the situation carefully, Reuters reported.

The United States, Great Britain and France will ask UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon later on Wednesday to launch an investigation into the attack, which looks to be one of the single deadliest incidents of Syria's sectarian war, UN officials told Reuters on the condition of anonymity.

The chemical attack, launched on the Ghouta area in the Damascene suburbs, caused an international outcry on Wednesday after  reports came in that it was carried out on a residential area. Many of those killed in the attack were children, according to the photos circulated of the makeshift morgues set up to house the victims, of which there is reported to be over 1,300.

Western and Arab countries have put pressure on the UN to ensure its chemical weapons team, which is already in Damascus investigating previous allegations of chemical attacks, to be dispatched to Ghouta immediately.

"Professor Sellstrom is in discussions with the Syrian government on all issues pertaining to the alleged use of chemical weapons, including this most recent reported incident," the U.N. press office said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Ban was shocked by the report of the alleged attack, the statement added.

The UN mission of Argentina, the president of the 15-nation U.N. Security Council this month, said the UNSC would hold an emergency meeting at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) to discuss the chemical weapons attack.


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