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Pentagon proposes $2.7 bn in Iraq arms sales

The Pentagon has notified the US Congress of $2.7 billion in possible new sales to Iraq of air defense and communications systems. The latest contracts would raise to nearly $5 billion the value of a series of US arms sales to Iraq that have been sent to Congress over the past two weeks. Congress has 30 days to act to block the sales, but otherwise they would have its tacit approval. The biggest of the contracts notified on Monday was worth an estimated $2.4 billion.

U.N. says chemical weapons inspectors to visit three Syria sites

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Syria has agreed to allow U.N. investigators to visit three sites to investigate accusations of chemical weapons use during the country's two year civil war, the United Nations said on Wednesday. "The Mission will travel to Syria as soon as possible to contemporaneously investigate three of the reported incidents, including Khan al-Asal," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's press office said in a statement. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Vicki Allen)

'No information' Syria rebels used chemical arms

The United States has no information that the Syrian rebels used chemical weapons as alleged by a UN rights investigator, a top State Department official said Monday. "We have no information to suggest that they have either the capability or the intent to deploy or use such weapons," the senior official said, adding the US administration was trying to gather as many facts as possible.

Securing Syria's chemical arms would carry huge risks

A military mission to secure Syria's chemical arsenal would require a large ground force and pose huge risks, with the outcome hinging on the quality of Western intelligence, experts say. With the Syrian regime suspected of using chemical agents against rebels, US and Western military commanders are planning for a possible worst-case scenario in which an international force would move in to neutralize the lethal weapons.

U.N. team standing by to probe Syria chemical arms faces hurdles

By Anthony Deutsch and Fredrik Dahl THE HAGUE (Reuters) - A team of U.N.-led experts is on standby in Cyprus waiting for the go-ahead to investigate allegations of chemical weapons attacks in Syria, but the mission has been held up by diplomatic wrangling over their powers and how to keep them safe. The team of at least 15 investigators includes analytical chemists, able to collect and test suspected samples, and World Health Organisation experts on the medical effects of exposure to toxins, who could examine alleged victims.

UN excludes major powers from Syria chemical arms inquiry

The United Nations on Tuesday named a Swedish scientist to lead an inquiry into the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, but has barred experts from the major powers from taking part, officials said Tuesday. UN leader Ban Ki-Moon appointed Ake Sellstrom of Sweden, a veteran of 1990s arms investigations in Iraq, to head the inquiry. No definitive mandate for the inquiry has been announced, although the UN said the aim is not to find who staged the alleged attacks.

Swedish scientist to head U.N. Syria chemical weapons probe

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has named Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom to head the U.N. investigation into allegations that chemical weapons were used in Syria, Ban's spokesman said on Tuesday. "He is an accomplished scientist with a solid background in disarmament and international security," U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

US demands Syria give access to UN arms inspectors

The United States on Friday demanded that the Syrian regime allow full access to UN weapons inspectors and cooperate with a probe into claims that chemical arms may have been used in the conflict. "We support an investigation that pursues any and all credible allegations of possible use of chemical weapons," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told inspectors. "And we demand the full cooperation of the Assad regime in letting the investigators in and letting them go wherever the trail leads them," she said, adding they should have "free and unfettered" access.
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