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UN envoys hear doctor's account of Syria chemical attack

17 April 2015, 07:47

New York - The UN Security Council went into a closed-door meeting on Thursday to hear first-hand accounts of chemical attacks unleashed in Syria as it weighed possible action against those responsible.

The 15 ambassadors were to hear a report by Syrian doctor Saher Sahloul on the alleged use of chlorine gas in the fighting in Idlib last month that activists say left at least six dead, including children.

Qusai Zakarya, a Syrian survivor of the August 2013 chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, outside Damascus, was also to speak to the council.

That attack sparked an international outcry and prompted the Security Council to adopt a resolution on the destruction of Syria's chemical stockpiles and production sites.

Jordanian Ambassador Dina Kawar, who chairs the council this month, said it was time to consider action to stop the attacks but also to re-launch the peace process in Syria.

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"Of course it's time to take action, on everything, especially on the political part, because at the end of the day if we don't solve the political part, we will be ending up with more deaths and more problems," Kawar told reporters.

The world chemical watchdog OPCW is carrying out a fact-finding mission in Syria on the use of toxic chemicals during the attacks last month and their report will be key to guiding the council on the next steps.

The council has threatened further measures as the United States, Britain and France have pressed the case that only President Bashar Assad's regime has such weaponry.

US-based Human Rights Watch has said it investigated six reported attacks in Idlib and villages outside, collecting evidence from rescue workers and civilians that provided a compelling case in three of them.

The rights group urged the Security Council to push for a full investigation of the attacks.

"So far, the Syrian government has paid no price for committing a war crime with banned chemical weapons. Security Council members, including Russia, should promptly ensure a credible investigation to uncover responsibility for the use of toxic chemicals," said HRW's UN director Philippe Bolopion.

UN peace envoy Staffan de Mistura is due to brief the council next week on his plans to revive peace talks after his proposed freeze on fighting in Aleppo failed to materialise.



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