Ban Calls on Syria to Cooperate with U.N. Investigators

U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon on Tuesday called on Syria to approve and cooperate with a United Nations mission to probe the alleged use of chemical weapons in the country's conflict.

"I appeal to the government of Syria to extend its full cooperation and to allow the mission to proceed," Ban told reporters in Rome.

Ban had said on Monday that a U.N. inspection team was in Cyprus and ready to deploy to nearby Syria to probe the alleged use of chemical weapons in the conflict.

Damascus had asked for the investigation into its allegation that the opposition had used chemical weapons in Khan al-Assal on March 19.

The rebels charge that government forces had deployed the munitions.

However, later on Monday, a ministry official cited by state news agency SANA rejected the inspection as proposed by Ban.

He said that Syria "can not accept such maneuvers on the part of the U.N. secretariat general, bearing in mind the negative role that it played in Iraq and which cleared the way to the American invasion" of that country in 2003.

The official said Syria had specifically requested "a neutral and honest technical team to visit the village of Khan al-Assal" in the northern province of Aleppo.

Source: Agence France Presse

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