UN to inspect Syria attack site as France vows response

  26 August 2013    Read: 437
UN to inspect Syria attack site as France vows response
Syria Sunday announced it would give United Nations inspectors access to an alleged chemical attack site near Damascus, as French President Francois Hollande vowed the incident would not go unpunished, dpa reported.
Syria`s state news agency SANA reported that the government had reached an agreement on the matter with Angela Kane, the UN high representative for disarmament affairs, who is currently in Damascus.

"Coordination will be conducted with the Syrian government on when the (UN) team will visit the places on which the agreement has reached," SANA quoted an unnamed Foreign Ministry official as saying.
A UN official said the inspectors were preparing to conduct on-site fact-finding activities starting Monday.

"The (UN) secretary general notes the government of the Syrian Arab Republic affirmed that it will provide the necessary cooperation, including the observance of the cessation of hostilities at the locations related to the incident," added a spokesman for UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

Hollande, meanwhile, blamed the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the alleged attack.

Hollande said there was "a range of proof" indicating that the attack involved chemical weapons and that "everything led to believe the Syrian regime was responsible," the presidency said after a telephone call between the French leader and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Hollande expressed "France`s determination not to let this act go unpunished."

Hollande also spoke Sunday with US President Barack Obama spoke about the ongoing violence in Syria.

The two leaders expressed their grave concern about the reported use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime against civilians near Damascus on Wednesday, the White House said.
Obama and Hollande also discussed possible responses by the international community and agreed to continue to consult closely.
Hollande`s office added in a statement that the French president also discussed Syria in separate calls with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Israeli television Sunday that the gravity of the attack calls for a "strong reaction," adding that governments were "busy reflecting such a reaction," but declined to elaborate.

"There are several possibilities of reactions," he told Israel`s Channel 2. "You must allow me not to be more specific in my reply."

The Syrian opposition says at least 1,300 people were killed in toxic gas attacks by al-Assad`s forces upon rebel strongholds.
The government has denied the allegations, with Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi saying there was evidence rebels had used the weapons.

United States Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has said Washington is still weighing its options on Syria.
"We, along with our allies, are continuing to assess the intelligence and specifics of that intelligence on the use of chemical weapons," Hagel added in Kuala Lumpur.
"President Obama has asked the Defence Department to prepare for all contingencies ... We are prepared to exercise whatever option."

In Syria, the governor of the restive province of Hama, Anas Abdel-Razaq, was killed in a car bombing, reported SANA.
The agency added that the bombing had been carried out by "terrorists" - a term used in state media to refer to rebels fighting to oust al-Assad.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition watchdog based in Britain, said the attack had targeted the governor`s convoy inside Hama.

Western and Arab military officials are to meet in Amman on Monday to review "all options" in response to the alleged chemical attack in Syria, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said.

"There is no doubt that the recent developments and the use of chemical weapons in Syria will be part of discussions ... . Participants will review all scenarios regarding Syria," Judeh said in Amman.

Pope Francis, meanwhile, appealed to the world help to end what he called the tragic situation in Syria through dialogue. The leader of the Roman Catholic Church cited "awful images," an apparent reference to photographs published in wake of the alleged chemical attack.

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