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Syrian samples shipped from The Hague to labs

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-09-03 07:50

UNITED NATIONS - The samples collected by UN inspectors from the site of the alleged August 21 chemical weapons attacks in Syria were shipped from The Hague, the Netherlands, Monday and will reach their designated laboratories "within hours", said a UN spokesman.    

"The samples were shipped this afternoon from The Hague and will reach their destination within hours," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said in a note emailed to reporters here. "The designated laboratories are prepared to begin the analyses immediately after receipt of samples."

The UN fact-finding group, led by Swedish specialist Ake Sellstrom, was created by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in March at the request of the Syrian government. The investigators were ordered out of the war-torn country Saturday to return to The Hague.    

The team, which was initially set to investigate the alleged March 19 chemical attacks on Khan al-Asal in the northern province of Aleppo and two other undisclosed sites, arrived at the war-torn nation on August 18. The investigators were later told to travel to the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, where chemical weapons were allegedly used on August 21, to collect evidence.

"Since the return of the Mission last Saturday, the UN team worked around the clock to finalise the preparations of the samples in view of their shipment to the designated laboratories," the spokesman said.

The secretary-general on Sunday discussed with Sellstrom on "how to expedite the process of analyzing the samples according to established international standards and regulations", said the spokesman, who failed to disclose how long the process of samples analysis will take.

He said the secretary-general will share the initial report with member states and the UN Security Council.

According to the spokesman, the secretary-general would continue to be in close contact with the five permanent members of the Security Council and would brief the 10 non-permanent members of the Council on the latest developments at 10:00 am EDT Tuesday.

Angela Kane, the UN high representative for disarmament affairs, "is due to brief member states that wrote to the secretary-general requesting the investigation of the alleged use of chemical weapons in Ghouta area of Damascus on 21 August 2013" Tuesday.

On her return to New York, Kane, who was sent to Syria by the secretary-general to negotiate an access for the UN inspectors to investigate the alleged chemical weapons attack on August 21, on Saturday briefed Ban on her trip and the current status of the UN investigation in Syria.


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