Syria accepts cooperation terms for visit by U.N. investigation team

The Syrian government formally accepted terms of cooperation to ensure the safe, proper and efficient conduct of a mission by the U.N. chemical weapons investigation team, the U.N. announced on Wednesday.

The team will investigate the use of chemical weapons in the ongoing conflict between Bashar al-Assad's Syrian forces and the Syrian opposition. Swedish scientist Åke Sellström, the team's leader, finished logistical arrangements for the mission last weekend.

"The departure of the team is now imminent," a spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said. "As agreed with the government of Syria, the team will remain in the country to conduct its activities, including on-site visits, for a period of up to 14 days, extendable upon mutual consent."

The spokesperson said that Ban's goal is an independent and impartial investigation.

"The secretary-general wishes to express his appreciation to the government of Syria for its cooperation," the spokesperson said. "Our goal remains a fully independent and impartial inquiry."

The spokesperson said Ban believes that an effective mechanism to look into allegations of chemical weapons use can deter the employment of such weapons.

"The overwhelming support of the international community for this investigation makes clear that the use of chemical weapons by any side under any circumstances would constitute an outrageous crime," the spokesperson said.

There is not yet an official date for the mission to Syria.