The United Nations said Wednesday that Syria has made no formal request for a UN investigation into government claims that opposition rebels have used chemical weapons.
UN spokesman Martin Nesirky appeared to counter a statement by Syria’s UN envoy Bashar Jaafari that Syria had asked for the “independent” inquiry into the claims.
Nesirky said he had briefed Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Jaafari’s comments to reporters. “I think we will have something further to say once we have received a formal request which we have so far not received,” Nesirky told reporters.
Just before, Jaafari said “my government has requested, a few minutes ago, the secretary general of the United Nations to form a specialised, independent and neutral technical mission to investigate the use by the terrorist groups operating in Syria of chemical weapons yesterday against civilians.”
President Bashar al-Assad’s government says chemical arms were used Tuesday in the town of Khan al-Assal near the conflict hotspot of Aleppo.
The Syrian opposition has accused government forces of using chemical weapons and also demanded an independent investigation.
Ban has been in touch with the head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which implements the Chemical Weapons Convention, over the allegations.
“The secretary general remains convinced that the use of chemical weapons by any party under any circumstances would constitute an outrageous crime,” said Nesirky.
Ban and OPCW secretary general Ahmet Uzumcu agreed to “maintain close contacts as developments unfold,” said Nesirky.
UN Security Council nations are remaining cautious about the claims.
“We simply don’t have any information to corroborate, verify, substantiate” the allegations by either side, a senior UN diplomat said.