(NEW YORK) — The Syrian government is repelling attempts by the United Nations to widen an investigation into what is believed to be the use of chemical weapons in an Aleppo province village last month.
Both sides in the two-year conflict are blaming the other for the alleged incident in Khan al-Assal.
Damascus appeared ready to allow a U.N. inspection team currently in Cyprus to get a first-hand look in the village until Secretary General Ban Ki-moon requested additional teams to visit other parts of Syria to investigate additional claims.
A Syrian foreign ministry official said that such action would result in a “violation of Syrian sovereignty,” adding that Ban had “bowed to pressure exercised by states known for their support for the shedding of Syrian blood with the aim of diverting [the probe] from its true content”.
In response, Ban told reporters in The Hague, Netherlands, that “all serious claims” of chemical weapons use “should be examined without delay, without conditions and without exceptions”.
President Bashar al-Assad’s military is alleged to have stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. President Obama has said that there would be “grave consequences” if it can be proven Damascus used these agents against their own people.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Roshni Majumdar, CNN
James Griffiths and Shen Lu
Rafael Romo and Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
Claire Moran, CNN