A military lab in the northern Swedish city of Umea will analyze samples collected by a UN team on the site of a purported chemical attack in Syria, Swedish media said on Monday.
Umea’s Vasterbottens-Kuriren newspaper said it had received confirmation of the report directly from the team’s chief, Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom. Vasterbottensnytt, the local office of Sweden’s national SVT television, said Sellstrom arrived to Sweden on Monday.
The Swedish Defense Research Agency’s laboratory in Umea is the country’s only facility, accredited by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for this type of research.
“There is about a dozen of people who will work with these samples. We have clear rules on how it should be done,” Vasterbottens-Kuriren quoted Britt Karlsson, a researcher with the agency, as saying.
“The OPCW has strict demands, and we have the highest level of accreditation. According to the rules, we have two weeks [to do the research], but, of course, we hope to give our response sooner,” she said.
Swedish media also reported that some of the samples might be sent to Finland for analysis.
Western powers are considering armed intervention in the two-year civil war after hundreds of people were killed on August 21 in the Syrian capital Damascus in an apparent nerve gas attack that the Syrian opposition claimed was performed by government forces. The Syrian government quickly denied the allegations and said it had evidence of rebel groups using chemical weapons.
A UN investigative team was dispatched on the site of the attack and is expected to present its findings by mid-September, but its mandate is limited to establishing whether the attack took place, not naming the guilty parties.