UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon Friday called on a UN investigation team, tasked with probing allegations of use of chemical weapons in Syria, to be granted permission and access to "swiftly investigate" a latest claim that Syrian regime forces had used chemical weapons in suburbs of capital Damascus. Speaking at daily press briefing, Ban's spokesperson Eduardo del Buey said the UN head reiterated his call for a cessation of hostilities so that humanitarian assistance can be urgently delivered. "The Secretary General now calls for the mission, presently in Damascus, to be granted permission and access to swiftly investigate the incident which occurred on the morning of 21 August 2013. A formal request is being sent by the United Nations to the Government of Syria in this regard. He expects to receive a positive response without delay," Buey said. Buey said that Ban remained "deeply troubled by the reports of the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, and believed that the incidents reported Thursday needed to be investigated without delay." "Since yesterday he has been in touch with world leaders on the matter. He has instructed Under-Secretary General Angela Kane to travel to Damascus. Furthermore, senior UN officials have been in contact with the Syrian authorities since the first reports were received," Buey said.
On Wednesday, Syrian National Coalition (SNC) said at least 1,300 people were killed in a poison attack which it blamed on forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the suburbs of the Ghouta region near Damascus.
But the Syrian regime strongly denied the claim and described reports and figures as "lies and groundless," saying reports were aimed at "distracting a visiting team of United Nations chemical weapons experts from their mission."
A UN team is currently in Syria to investigate an earlier allegation of use of chemical weapons reported by the Syrian government at Khan al-Assal as well as two other allegations reported by Security Council member states.