Sellström gives mission in Syria 8.7 out of 10

Åke Sellström, the head of the fact-finding mission in Syria, gave the mission an 8.7 out of 10 during a press conference on Friday.

Sellström is the scientist in charge of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-U.N. Joint Mission in Syria to investigate alleged uses of chemical weapons in Syria. He said the mission discharged its responsibilities as best it could using the instruments and mechanisms available while staying within its mandate.

Sellström said the mission concluded that chemical weapons were used during the ongoing conflict in Syria after investigating seven of the 16 allegations. He said some allegations concerned the use of the deadly weapons against civilians while others were related to the weapons being used against Syrian soldiers.

When asked about who was responsible for the use of chemical weapons, Sellström said the question of attribution would need more efforts and resources.

"We are not free as the police force would be," Sellström said.

Joining Sellström in the conference were Angela Kane, the U.N. high representative for disarmament affairs, Scott Cairns, the OPCW team leader in Syria, and Maurizio Barbeschi, a scientist with the World Health Organization.

When asked where the chemical weapon samples were stored and how a prosecuting authority would obtain them, Kane said the samples were under safeguard as a living document with the U.N. She said there was high interest in the research potential of the samples.

Barbeschi said the samples contained significant scientific value and could result in lifesaving knowledge about managing chemical weapons.