Moscow says investigation of chemical attack in Syria to be completed, despite UN experts return to The Hague
The intention of UN experts, engaged in investigating information on chemical weapons use in Syria to return to The Hague to deliver the samples taken at the chemical attack site near Damascus, should not impede the completion of the investigation in the districts, on which the UN and the Syrian authorities initially agreed, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
"In the context of the information that has emerged on the intention of all UN experts investigating cases of possible chemical weapons use in Syria to return to The Hague in order to deliver samples taken at the site of the chemical weapons incident near Damascus to study them in a specialized laboratory of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, we think that it is necessary to emphasize that this should not interfere with the completion of the investigation process in the districts previously chosen in the framework of the agreement between the Syrian authorities and the UN Secretariat on August 13, 2013," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement.
Experts are expected to complete their work in Syria on August 30 and to inform UN Secretary General Pan Ki-moon of their conclusions on August 31.
It has been reported that Damascus had invited a group of UN experts to investigate the reports that the Syrian opposition activists used chemical weapons in March.
However, the UN executives started insisting on expanding the authority of the mission and on receiving the permission of the Syrian authorities to access other districts, where, including under the opposition statements, the governmental forces might have used the chemical weapons. Damascus rejected such a work format.
Eventually, the Syrian authorities authorized the UN experts to go to three districts in Syria.
In particular, experts will go to Khan al-Assal in the northern province of Aleppo, where, according to the information of the authorities, 26 people were killed in March as a result of an alleged chemical weapons attack by the opposition.