U.N. team revisits Damascus suburbs to test poison gas attack sites

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A U.N. team of inspectors left their Damascus hotel on Thursday to continue on-site investigations into an apparent poison gas attack on the outskirts of the Syrian capital.

Activists and doctors in opposition-held areas told Reuters the six-car U.N. convoy was scheduled to visit the scene of strikes in the suburb of eastern Ghouta.

The news comes as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday investigation efforts will continue until Friday.

“They will continue investigation activities until tomorrow Friday and they will come out of Syria by Saturday morning and will report to me as soon as they come out,” Ban said in statements carried by AFP.

The U.N. team has been investigating this week an alleged poison gas attack near Damascus on August 21, that the Syrian opposition says has killed hundreds.

The U.N. chief said he had spoken on Wednesday to U.S. President Barack Obama, as the United States appears to be moving closer to a military strike.

“I... expressed my sincere wish that this investigation team should be allowed to continue their work as mandated by the member states,” Ban said.

“We discussed how the U.N. and the world can work together particularly with the United States, (and) how we can expedite the process of investigation,” he added.

Ban has repeatedly spoken out against military action in Syria.

But while he called for peace, he also urged those who may have used chemical weapons to be held responsible.

“Diplomacy should be given a chance... peace [should] be given a chance,” he said.

He added: “The use of chemical weapons by anyone, for any reason, under any circumstances, is a crime against humanity and that must be held accountable for.”

(With AFP and Reuters)

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