U.N.: Syria Says It Found Sarin in ‘Abandoned’ Containers

July 8, 2014, 7:44 a.m.

In­ter­na­tion­al au­thor­it­ies au­then­tic­ated sar­in nerve agent in­side two con­tain­ers that Syr­ia’s re­gime said it found in rebel-held ter­rit­ory, Re­u­ters re­ports.

U.N. Sec­ret­ary Gen­er­al Ban Ki-moon said Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad’s forces al­legedly re­covered the sub­stance last Au­gust, the month of a sar­in-gas strike that killed hun­dreds of people in a Dam­as­cus sub­urb, the news agency said in a Monday art­icle. As­sad’s gov­ern­ment re­cently fin­ished hand­ing over 1,300 met­ric tons of war­fare sub­stances un­der an agree­ment forged after the Aug. 21 in­cid­ent, but the re­gime has con­tin­ued to blame op­pon­ents for every chem­ic­al strike in Syr­ia’s 3-year-old civil war.

A June 14 ana­lys­is by the United Na­tions and the world’s chem­ic­al-weapons watch­dog “con­firmed that these [cyl­in­ders] con­tained sar­in,” Ban told the U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil in a let­ter later that month.

As­sad’s gov­ern­ment said the con­tain­ers had been “aban­doned” and “did not be­long to it,” ac­cord­ing to a sep­ar­ate state­ment by Ah­met Üzüm­cü, dir­ect­or gen­er­al of the Or­gan­iz­a­tion for the Pro­hib­i­tion of Chem­ic­al Weapons. His agency last Oc­to­ber said the re­gime had re­por­ted find­ing the cyl­in­ders, but it is un­clear how long they have been in in­ter­na­tion­al cus­tody.

The U.N. chief pressed for the elim­in­a­tion of the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment’s re­main­ing chem­ic­al-war­fare as­sets “at the very earli­est op­por­tun­ity, in­clud­ing the de­struc­tion of re­main­ing pro­duc­tion fa­cil­it­ies and the res­ol­u­tion of any pos­sible re­main­ing tech­nic­al dis­crep­an­cies in the ori­gin­al [stock­pile] de­clar­a­tion.”

Mean­while, the U.S. ves­sel MV Cape Ray began des­troy­ing roughly 600 tons of war­fare chem­ic­als re­lin­quished by Syr­i­an au­thor­it­ies, the De­fense De­part­ment an­nounced on Monday.

“When neut­ral­iz­a­tion is com­plete, Cape Ray will de­liv­er the res­ult ef­flu­ent by-products to Fin­land and Ger­many for de­struc­tion ashore,” Pentagon spokes­man Col. Steve War­ren said.

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