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UN chemical weapons investigation team returns to Syria

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-09-25 18:56

DAMASCUS - The UN chemical investigation weapons team returned to Syria Wednesday to complete their probe, according to a Xinhua correspondent. The fact-finding group was assembled in The Hague in early August.

Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom, a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, was asked by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to set up the group in March. The team arrived in Syria at the request of the Syrian government on Aug.

18 and inspected some locations in the countryside of the capital Damascus for the use of chemical weapons. On Aug. 30, the team left to analyze initial findings, after which they affirmed the use of nerve agent, sarin, in the eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus, which allegedly killed hundreds of people. However, the rebels and the Syrian government have been trading accusations over the responsibility of the attack.

On Tuesday, UN officials said the team will return to complete its investigation. In a statement, the UN said that the investigation will include gathering evidence from an alleged chemical weapons attack on March 19 against the town of Khan al-Assal in Syria's northern province of Aleppo, which was captured by the rebels in July.

The Syrian government accused the rebels of staging the Khan al- Asal town attack and urged the UN to send an investigation team. Damascus, in a bid to strip Washington of its pretext to launch war, has announced that it will surrender its chemical stockpiles to the international community and joined the chemical weapons treaty, which prohibits manufacturing, stockpiling and the use of chemical arsenal.

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