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UN Inspectors Looking Into Seven Alleged Chemical Attacks

  • RFE/RL

Members of the UN chemical-weapons investigation team arrived in Damascus on September 25.

Members of the UN chemical-weapons investigation team arrived in Damascus on September 25.

United Nations weapons inspectors in Syria are investigating seven cases of alleged chemical weapons use, including three incidents after the August 21 attack which almost triggered U.S. military strikes.

In a statement issued in Damascus on September 27, the experts -- currently on their second mission to Syria -- said they are set to complete their work on September 30 and issue a report by late October.

The experts have already said in a preliminary report that the nerve gas sarin was used during the August 21 attack near Damascus. The attack occurred during the inspectors' first visit to Syria last month.

A separate team of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is expected to begin inspecting Syria's chemical weapons on October 1.

According to a draft plan, the OPCW will inspect any sites identified as having been involved in Syria's chemical weapons program. The OPCW usually only inspects sites that have been declared by member states.

The OPCW is overseeing implementation of a U.S.-Russia deal under which Syria has agreed to turn over its chemical arsenal to be destroyed.

The OPCW Executive Council was to hold a meeting later on September 27 in The Hague to discuss the draft plan.

The OPCW meeting comes after the five members of the UN Security Council on on September 26 agreed on a draft resolution on eliminating Syria's chemical weapons, breaking a prolonged deadlock.

Reports say the draft does not include any direct trigger for sanctions or military action if Damascus fails to comply.

The 15-member Security Council is to vote on the draft resolution on September 27, after the OPCW meeting.

Earlier in the day, U.S. President Barack Obama said the draft resolution is "potentially a huge victory" for the world. He said that legitimate concerns remain whether the Syrian government will follow through on its commitments but added that such a resolution provides a "legally binding" and "verifiable" framework.

Meanwhile, a car bomb in a town north of Damascus reportedly killed at least 30 people on September 27.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the blast struck outside a mosque in the town of Rankus, some 40 kilometers north of Damascus. Dozens of people were also injured.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP