Ban: On-site activities needed to establish chemical weapons facts in Syria

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday that the U.N. must be allowed to conduct on-site activities to be able to establish facts related to chemical weapons use in Syria.

In March, Ban formed a team of experts, led by Åke Sellström, to lead a fact-finding mission into the allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria. The team has not yet been cleared to enter Syria by Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime.

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

Sellström's team is ready to deploy to Syria within 24 to 48 hours. Ban expressed his confidence in the professionalism, independence and integrity of Sellström's team.

Monday also marked the annual Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Chemical Warfare.

"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.