(VOVworld)- After several negotiations, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has finally agreed to allow UN inspectors to investigate 3 sites suspected of storing chemical weapons. The investigation aims to verify the presence of chemical weapons in Syria, not its use. But events in Syria over the last two days have raised suspicions that false chemical weapons claims are being used as an excuse to intervene in Syria.
The UN inspection delegation led by Chief UN chemical weapons inspector Ake Sellstrom arrived in Damascus on Sunday to conduct an independent and impartial investigation. They are scheduled to visit three sites including Khan A-Al- Assad, where the Syrian government accused the rebels of using chemical weapons to kill 26 people on March 19. The opposition says the government conducted the attack. The other two sites have not yet been revealed.
The UN investigation comes after the organization received 13 reports, mostly from the UK, France and the US, of chemical weapons being used in Syria. In its report, France said sarin gas was used several times. Washington suspected the Syrian government of using this gas and warmed that the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons would cross the red line and compel the international community to intervene militarily. Though accusing Syria of using nerve gas, the US and the West have not been able to produce any evidence. The US Central Intelligence Agency estimates that Syria possesses hundreds of liters of chemical weapons and produces hundreds of tons of toxic chemicals a year making it the largest chemical weapons warehouse in the Middle East.
In response, the Syrian Foreign Ministry vowed that the stocks of prohibited weapons that Syria is alleged to have, will never be used against civilians despite the escalation of the crisis. These weapons of mass destruction will only be used if Syria is attacked. Syrian ambassador to the UN Bashar Ja’afari said that the allegation of chemical weapons use in Syria was a political ploy. Sharing that view, Russia accused certain Western countries of intentionally exaggerating the chemical weapon issue in Syria and reminded the world of an intervention in Iraq based on a suspicion of weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist.
While the truth about chemical weapons in Syria is not yet clear, some Western countries have made the issue as a reason to lift their arms embargo on the opposition in Syria. 2 days after UN inspectors arrived in Syria, the opposition posted photos of dead bodies on the outskirts of Damascus claiming that they were the latest victims of chemical weapons used in a government attack on August 20. The Syrian National Coalition immediately called on the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting. In an extraordinary reaction, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said he would bring the attack before the UN Security Council and expressed his hope that such attacks will alert supporters of President Bashar Al Assad to the nature of his regime. French President Francois Hollande called on UN inspectors to visit the attack sites. The Syrian army has denied the allegation. The Russian Foreign Ministry said these allegations are aimed at undercutting an international peace conference to be held in Geneva.
The civil war in Syria sparked in March in 2011 has killed more than 100,000 people and driven 1.8 million out of the country. With reconciliation efforts deadlocked, allegations of chemical weapons use are worsening the situation in Syria.