U.N. launches probe into allegations of chemical weapons attack in Syria

The United Nations announced on Thursday that it would investigate allegations by Syria that rebel forces used chemical weapons during an attack near Aleppo.

Syria requested that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon look into an alleged chemical weapons attack on Tuesday by purported terrorist groups, Reuters reports.

"I have decided to conduct a United Nations investigation into the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria," Ban said, according to Reuters. "(The investigation will focus on) the specific incident brought to my attention by the Syrian government."

Meanwhile, Western countries sought a probe of all chemical weapons claims. Syrian rebels claimed it was the Syrian government that fired the chemical-laden missile. Twenty-six people died in the rocket attack in Aleppo. The Syrian opposition also reported a second chemical weapon attack on Tuesday near Damascus.

Ban said the investigation would solely focus on the Aleppo attack and will begin as soon as possible.

"I am of course aware that there are other allegations of similar cases involving the reported use of chemical weapons," Ban said, according to Reuters. "My announcement should serve as an unequivocal reminder that the use of chemical weapons is a crime against humanity."

The U.N. will cooperate with the World Health Organization and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on the investigation. This will mark the first time the OPCW has been asked to investigate in a conflict zone.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the U.S. supported the investigation of any serious allegations of chemical weapon use.

"The United States supports an investigation that pursues any and all credible allegations of the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria, and underscores the importance of launching this investigation as swiftly as possible," Rice said, according to Reuters.

Ban urged the Syrian rebels and government to cooperate with the inquiry.

"There is much work to do and this will not happen overnight, it is obviously a difficult mission," Ban said, according to Reuters.