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Syria chemical weapons attack not "fully verified" - Britain's U.N. envoy

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Britain's U.N. envoy said on Tuesday that reports of a chemical weapon attack in Syria had not yet been "fully verified" as the Russian Foreign Ministry accused Syrian rebels of using chemical weapons near the northern city of Aleppo.

Syria's government and rebels accused each other of launching the deadly chemical attack on Tuesday. If confirmed it would be the first use of such weapons in the two-year-old conflict.

"We have seen those reports, they haven't yet been fully verified," Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters on his way into a U.N. Security Council meeting on Afghanistan.

"But clearly if chemical weapons were used then that would be abhorrent and it would require a serious response from the international community," he said.

The Security Council has been deadlocked on Syria since 2011. Russia and China have refused to consider sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad's government, and have vetoed three resolutions condemning Assad's crackdown on opposition groups.

The conflict began as peaceful protests that turned violent when Assad tried to crush the revolt. The United Nations says more than 70,000 people have been killed and more than 1 million people have fled the violence.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130319/syria-chemical-weapons-attack-not-fully-verified-britains-un-en