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UN team reports 10 incidents of chemical weapon use by Syria

A UN team sent to Turkey earlier this week to investigate the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria's civil war reported Wednesday 10 different incidents of their use by the Syrian government.

Syria chemical weapons UN inspectionEnlarge
A picture shows destruction in the Al-Sukkari district of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on April 5, 2013. The UN is urging Syria to open itself up to chemical weapons inspectors. (DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)

A UN team sent to Turkey earlier this week to investigate the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria's civil war reported Wednesday 10 different incidents of their use by the Syrian government.

The team was assembled by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and has been on standby in Cyprus since April, barred from entering Syria after concerns were initially raised of chemical weapon use by Britain and France, and then by the United States.

The Syrian government had asked the UN to investigate an alleged chemical weapons attack on March 19 on the Aleppo suburb of Khan al-Assal that it blamed on rebels, but refused a broader investigation of other allegations.

More from GlobalPost: Inside the Syrian conflict

The team was sent to Turkey earlier this week and its head, Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, was said to be meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday.

The alleged chemical attacks started in December and ran through May, UN diplomats said. The British and Americans have jointly notified the UN of 10 separate incidents, said one diplomat on condition of anonymity.

"There is some overlap between the American ones and the British ones, if you add them all up there are 10 separate incidents where there seems to have been use of chemical weapons by the regime," the diplomat said, noting that no evidence has been found to show that the opposition possesses or has used chemical weapons.

Syria's government and its rebels have each accused each other of using chemical agents, including sarin gas, during the country's two-year conflict.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that more than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria since fighting started in March 2011. The civil war is considered the longest and most violent of the recent Arab uprisings.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/130627/un-team-reports-10-incidents-chemical-weapon-use-syria