Logistical Snags Force Syria Inspection Trip Delay

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Aug. 12, 2013, 7:02 a.m.

On Sunday, a team of U.N. in­spect­ors led by Swedish arms ex­pert Ake Sell­strom post­poned in­def­in­itely its planned two-week mis­sion to Syr­ia after plan­ning snags arose, CBS News re­por­ted.

The ori­gin­al de­par­ture date for the trip, which will in­vest­ig­ate al­leged chem­ic­al weapons use at three sites in the Middle East­ern na­tion, was to be Monday, but “tech­nic­al hitches” forced the team of 10 ex­perts to post­pone the jour­ney to Dam­as­cus, ac­cord­ing to un­named U.N. sources cited by the net­work.

Ne­go­ti­ations with the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment have been dif­fi­cult, with onsite lo­gist­ics play­ing a ma­jor role in the delay, ac­cord­ing to CBS News.

Khan As­sal is the only site of the three that has been pub­licly iden­ti­fied by the U.N. in­spect­ors. That town re­cently shif­ted in­to op­pos­i­tion con­trol, but rebels have said the in­vest­ig­at­ors would be giv­en open ac­cess. Atay­bah and Homs are re­portedly the two oth­er sites, which have not been con­firmed on the basis of se­cur­ity con­cerns.

A total of 13 re­ports of chem­ic­al at­tack in Syr­ia have been re­ceived by the United Na­tions, CBS cited the in­ter­na­tion­al body as say­ing last week. More than 100,000 people have been killed in the two-year-old civil war, with the vast ma­jor­ity of cas­u­al­ties at­trib­uted to con­ven­tion­al at­tacks.

The U.N. in­spec­tion mis­sion’s stated goal is not to de­term­ine which side used chem­ic­al weapons, but wheth­er chem­ic­al weapons have been used in the con­flict. However, some crit­ics have said that such an in­quiry without the goal of at­tri­bu­tion would of­fer lim­ited value.

Ac­cord­ing to an un­named source for CBS News, the team “will no­ti­fy the Syr­i­ans when they are ready to head to the coun­try.”

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