DAMASCUS, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- The international community has raised concerns over the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria after Syrian opposition activists accused the government forces of using "poisonous gases" in Damascus countryside.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday said a formal request to investigate the incident would be sent by the UN to the Syrian government, noting that the allegation needs to be investigated by the world body "without delay."
Ban also demanded the UN team of chemical weapons inspectors "be granted permission and access to swiftly investigate the incident which occurred on the morning of August 21, 2013."
The U.S. government said Thursday that it is unable to conclusively determine that chemical weapons were used in Syria as it is scrambling to gather all possible information on what happened in the country.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government has been seeking coordination and cooperation from its allies and partners on the investigation.
According to the U.S. State Department, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has spoken on the phone in the past days with the opposition Syrian National Coalition leader Ahmad Jarba, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, and his counterparts in France, Jordan, Qatar and Turkey.
Meanwhile, Russia hopes the results of the UN probe in Syria will clarify chemical weapons use in the country.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich said on Thursday that Russia expects the investigation to help remove speculations on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, which will create a positive background for progress towards political settlement of the Syrian crisis.
On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow considered the allegation from the Syrian opposition as "planned provocation" against the ruling regime, adding that the provocation has undermined the efforts for convening an international conference on Syria.
Also Thursday, French President Francois Hollande affirmed Paris support for the UN to carry out an investigation into the issue, while Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said earlier in the day that "force" would be needed if it is confirmed that the Syrian government forces used chemical weapons in the eastern suburb of Damascus.
Germany on Thursday asked Syria to grant full access to UN chemical weapons investigation, calling for prompt clarification on the allegations. ' Jordan on Thursday said the alleged use of chemical weapons in the countryside of Damascus would have serious consequences on Jordan's national security, calling for an independent investigation into the crime to hold perpetrators accountable.
Pro-opposition activists on Wednesday alleged that Syrian government troops used chemical weapons in attacking rebel-held areas in the eastern countryside of Damascus, posting hunting photos and video footage of victims, including women and children.
Syria's main opposition group in exile, the National Coalition, said in a statement that 1,193 people were killed in the attack.
The government has denied the allegations as part of a "dirty" media war against Syria, but so far offered no public response to calls for wider U.N. access.
The latest episode of accusations and rejections came two days after the UN mission arrived in Damascus to investigate the possible use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict.
The probe was requested by the Syrian government, which accuses Western-backed rebels of using sarin agent in the northern town of Khan al-Asal.
News Analysis: All eyes on U.S. after alleged Syrian use of chemical weapons
WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Following the release of a video that allegedly shows the after-effects of a chemical weapons attack in Syria, all eyes are on the White House to see whether the United States will get directly involved in the bloody conflict.
Syrian rebels in recent days accused government forces of launching toxic gas attacks, saying possibly hundreds have been killed. The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied the attack, saying the accusations were baseless.Full story
Amman says use of chemical weapons in Syria may harm Jordan
AMMAN, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Jordan on Thursday voiced its deep concern over the alleged use of chemical weapons in the countryside of Syria's capital Damascus that would have serious consequences on Jordan's national security, state-run Petra news agency reported.
Jordan's Minister of State for Media Affairs, Mohammad Momani, said the use of chemical weapons that led to the death of hundreds of civilian Syrians was a heinous crime.Full story
UN chief urges Syria to allow probe of alleged chemical weapons attack "without delay"
UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday said the latest alleged chemical weapons attack happening in the suburbs of Damascus, the capital of Syria, needs to be investigated by the world body "without delay."
In a statement issued here by his spokesperson, Ban demanded the UN team of chemical weapons inspectors, who are currently in Damascus, "be granted permission and access to swiftly investigate the incident which occurred on the morning of 21 August 2013." Full story