U.N. team returns from chemical weapon investigation trip to Syria

A United Nations team that was in Syria investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons returned to the headquarters of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the Hague on Saturday.

The team, which consisted of nine OPCW members and three WHO experts, spent two weeks in Syria investigating claims that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its own people. The team first stopped in Damascus on August 18 and was allowed to conduct investigations on locations where the chemical weapons had allegedly been used, including the infamous Khan Al-Asal area, as per the agreement between the U.N. and Syria.

During the team's trip, new allegations rose on August 21 of an additional use of chemical weapons in the suburbs of Damascus. The U.N. Secretary-General told the team to shift its focus to these new claims. The team investigated this area and collected both environmental and biological samples.

On August 26, the team convoy came under attack while traveling to Al-Moadamiya, another area where chemical weapons had allegedly been used. After changing vehicles and conducting interviews and tests at hospitals, the team safely returned to its base.

All of the evidence collected by the team is undergoing laboratory analysis and technical evaluation. The report will eventually be submitted to the United Nations Secretary General by Dr. Åke Sellström, one of the members of the investigation team.