The United Nations has been told of 13 alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria, a top UN official said Tuesday ahead of talks between UN experts and the Syrian government.
Robert Serry, UN envoy on the Middle East peace process, told the UN Security Council that UN leader Ban Ki-moon remains “gravely concerned” about reports of the use of chemical arms in the 28-month old conflict.
“The United Nations has received 13 such reports so far,” Serry told a Security Council meeting on the Middle East. He said all cases were being “studied.”
Serry spoke as the head of a UN investigation into the use of chemical arms in Syria, Ake Sellstrom, and the UN disarmament chief, Angela Kane, arrived in Beirut.
The two officials are expected to go to Damascus on Wednesday to start talks with President Bashar al-Assad’s government on securing access to sites in Syria where the arms are said to have been used.
The Syrian government has insisted the UN team only go to the town of Khan al-Assal. The government says opposition rebels used chemical weapons in an attack on the town on March 19 in which at least 26 people, including 16 soldiers, were killed.
The Syrian opposition blames attacks on government forces.
Britain, France and the United States have provided information to the United Nations about attacks which they say Assad forces carried out. Russia has handed over a report on the Khan al-Assal attack which it says showed opposition rebels had fired a shell containing sarin.