UN not to reveal details of weapons experts` visit

The UN Secretariat has cited security reasons for not disclosing the details of the upcoming investigation of the purported use of chemical weapons in Syria for security reasons.

Last Updated: Aug 02, 2013, 16:10 PM IST

United Nations: The UN Secretariat has cited security reasons for not disclosing the details of the upcoming investigation of the purported use of chemical weapons in Syria for security reasons.

However, one of the places to be visited by the UN experts is already known. It is Aleppo`s suburb of Khan Al-Asal. The other two have not been revealed.

The spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, Martin Nesirky, said yesterday, August 1, that apart from its leader, Swedish Professor Ake Sellstrom, the team of inspectors will include about 10 experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the World Health Organisation.

"The Mission will travel to Syria as soon as possible to contemporaneously investigate three of the reported incidents, including Khan al-Asal," Nesirky said.

He said that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon "remains mindful of other reported incidents and the Mission will also continue to seek clarification from the Member States concerned.

" The experts are now in The Hague, waiting for the last remaining logistical questions to be resolved before then can go.

The team led by UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane and Swedish Professor Ake Sellstrom had two rounds of talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and his Deputy Faisal Mekdad last week.

Kane said the purpose of the mission is to prepare the ground for the work of international experts in Syria.

The UN Secretariat has already received 13 reports about the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

On July 11, the UN disarmament chief and the head of the team probing the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria accepted the Syrian government`s invitation to visit Damascus for talks on carrying out the investigation.

Sellstrom and Kane agreed to accept the Syrian government`s invitation to visit Damascus with a view to completing the consultations on the modalities of cooperation required for the proper, safe and efficient conduct of the investigation.

The focus of the mission, set up following a formal request from the Syrian government, will be an incident involving the alleged use of chemical weapons in Kfar Dael region in Khan Al-Asal area in Aleppo governorate, the UN said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had repeatedly urged Damascus to grant the team access to the country so that it can carry out an on-the-ground investigation into the allegations.

PTI