Inspector in talks with Syria, Secretary-General shocked by reports

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The U.N. Security Council said it was necessary to clarify an alleged chemical weapons attack in Damascus suburbs on Aug. 21 but stopped short of demanding a probe by U.N. investigators currently in Syria.

“There is a strong concern among council members about the allegations and a general sense that there must be clarity on what happened and the situation must be followed closely,” Argentina’s U.N. ambassador, Maria Cristina Perceval, told reporters after a closed-door emergency meeting of the council.

The United States, Britain and France are among around 35 countries that called for chief U.N. investigator Ake Sellstrom, whose team is currently in Syria, to investigate the incident as soon as possible.

U.N. diplomats, however, said Russia and China opposed language that would have demanded a U.N. probe

Chief U.N. chemical weapons inspector Ake Sellstrom is in discussions with the Syrian government over an alleged chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21 and is following the situation carefully, the United Nations said. 

“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. 

Ban was shocked by the report of the attack, the U.N. statement also added.
 
It was not immediately clear how the Syrian government would respond to requests to allow Sellstrom’s team to investigate the alleged incident. The United Nations and Bashar al-Assad’s government were in talks for months before an agreement led to the arrival of Sellstrom’s team in Damascus this week.

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