A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today that following discussions between UN representatives and the Syrian government, UN weapons inspectors will visit Syria to investigate alleged chemical weapons use.
The brief statement said that on the basis of information evaluated thus far by the UN Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, the Mission will travel to Syria “as soon as possible” to contemporaneously investigate three of the incidents reported to date, including one at Khan al-Asal.
The UN statement also went on to say that the UN Secretary-General “remains mindful of other reported incidents and the Mission will also continue to seek clarification from the Member States concerned”.
The UN announcement coincided with reports today, Wednesday, that Syrian government forces were engaged in an assault to retake Khan al-Asal, an Aleppo village which is one of the alleged sites where chemical weapons are alleged to have been used.
Khan al-Asal was only recently captured by rebels fighting to overthrow the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. There have been claim and counterclaim by the Syrian government and rebel forces regarding chemical weapons use at Khan al-Asal, with each side blaming the other for an alleged chemical attack on March 19 that claimed 30 lives. The UN statement did not give details of the other two sites which will be investigated by UN inspectors.
Khan al-Asal was captured by rebel forces in Syria on July 22. After capture by the rebels, the UK based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said it had received reports that more than 150 members of forces loyal to President Assad had been killed. SOHR made reference to an estimated 51 of those killed being summarily executed by the rebels.
Iranian based Press TV referred to “foreign-sponsored militants in Syria,” having “executed 51 civilians” in Khan al-Asal, with all the victims having been shot in the head.