UN Investigators Back in Syria

The UN investigation team, led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, was returned to Syria, in order to resume its investigations of allegations of chemical weapons use in the Syrian conflict. According to CNN, they will be looking into six incidents, including the one last March in Khan al Assal, a suburb of Aleppo, which allegedly killed 24 people and injured another 110. The Russian government submitted a report on its own investigation into that incident to the U.N. Security Council last July, in which they concluded that opposition forces were responsible for the deaths.

Meanwhile, unnamed Western diplomats described the initial disclosure filed by Damascus with the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, as a “serious document” that is surprisingly thorough. According to the Los Angeles Times, the document discloses the locations of 45 sites associated with Syria’s chemical weapons program and it tracks closely with U.S. intelligence assessments. “It’s not necessarily 100% accurate, and we aren’t naive; we don’t know what we don’t know,” one anonymous Western official told the Times. “We are still looking at it, but it seems interesting.”

While it appears, so far, that Syrian President Bashar al Assad is keeping his end of the bargain, opposition forces are desperately trying to sabotage it. The Free Syrian Army has resurrected claims that it first made in July, that Syria was transferring chemical munitions to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Last week, an FSA spokesman even named Hezbollah bases where at least two truckloads of munitions supposedly were sent, and claimed to have video footage of the transfers, though that footage has yet to emerge, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Nobody seems to be buying that story, however, not even the Israelis who view the acquisition of chemical weapons by Hezbollah as a “red line.” “As far as we know, [Hezbollah leader Sheikh Nasrallah] does not want them,” Maj. General Yair Golan, the commander of the Israeli army’s northern front, told the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth last week.

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