UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Wednesday announced that the UN team of chemical weapons inspectors will have an imminent departure for Syria with the formal acceptance of modalities essential for cooperation from Damascus.
"The secretary-general is pleased to announce that the government of Syria has formally accepted the modalities essential for cooperation to ensure the proper, safe and efficient conduct of the Mission," said a statement issued here by Ban's spokesman.
"The departure of the team is now imminent," the statement said.
The UN team of about 10 experts assembled in The Hague since beginning of this month, they are tasked with investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflicts.
"As agreed with the government of Syria, the team will remain in the country to conduct its activities, including on-site visits, for a period of up to 14 days, extendable upon mutual consent," it said.
Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom, former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, was asked by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to set up the fact-finding team in March to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in the Syrian conflict, which lasts more than two years. The UN decision was made at the request of the Syrian government.
The UN probe will kick off on the basis of an agreement between the United Nations and the Syrian government reached in late July on allowing the UN chemical investigators access to Khan al-Asal and two other sites.
The locations of the two other incidents "are being kept confidential as a safety and security precaution," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters here early this month.
At least 25 people were killed and 130 others wounded on March 19 when armed men fired a rocket stuffed with chemical materials at Khan al-Asal.
The Syrian government and the opposition have accused each other of using chemical weapons and both have denied it.
"The secretary-general wishes to express his appreciation to the government of Syria for its cooperation," the statement said. "Our goal remains a fully independent and impartial inquiry."
"The secretary-general has complete faith in the integrity and professionalism" of Sellstrom and his team, said the statement.
Meanwhile, the secretary-general also wishes to express his appreciation to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the World Health Organization for their extraordinary efforts in supporting the Mission, it said.
"The secretary-general believes that an effective mechanism to investigate allegations of the use of chemical weapons can serve as an important deterrent against their employment," the statement said.
It said "The overwhelming support of the international community for this investigation makes clear that the use of chemical weapons by any side under any circumstances would constitute an outrageous crime."
UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- A UN team tasked with investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria has completed all logistical preparations for its inaugural trip to the war-torn nation, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
"Over the weekend, the investigation team led by Dr. Ake Sellstrom completed all the necessary logistical arrangements for its visit to Syria," said a statement issued by UN spokesperson office. Full story