Ban calls on Syria to allow on-site access to chemical weapons probe team

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon renewed his appeal on Monday for on-site access to Syria for the U.N. team probing the alleged use of chemical weapons during the ongoing conflict.

Ban addressed reporters in New York with Åke Sellström, a Swedish scientist appointed to head the fact-finding mission that was launched after a formal request from the Syrian government. The team is still awaiting consent from Syria to enter the country.

"A credible and comprehensive inquiry requires full access to the sites where chemical weapons are alleged to have been used," Ban said. "I again urge the Syrian authorities to allow the investigation to proceed without delay and without any conditions."

The team will initially focus on an incident involving the alleged use of chemical weapons in Aleppo. The team has been on stand-by and is prepared to deploy within 24 to 48 hours after receiving Syrian approval. An advance team is positioned in Cyprus.

"This is a crucial moment in our efforts to get the team on the ground to carry out its important task," Ban said. "I take seriously the recent intelligence report of the United States about the use of chemical weapons in Syria. On-site activities are essential if the United Nations is to be able to establish the facts and clear up all the doubts surrounding this issue."

Ban said that while waiting for Syrian approval, Sellström and his team members are doing what they can to gather and analyze available information.

"As we address these allegations, I encourage all involved to uphold their responsibilities in enabling us to properly police these heinous weapons of massive destruction," Ban said.