The UN weapons team investigating the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons has been attacked by sniper fire as it set out in convoy for the area where hundreds of civilians died.
Activists said later that the team had arrived in Moadamiyeh, a western suburb of the capital and one of the areas where the alleged attack occurred. The team was meeting doctors and victims at a makeshift hospital.
A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said the team’s lead vehicle was “deliberately shot at multiple times” in the buffer zone area between rebel- and government-controlled territory. He said one of the cars used by the team was “no longer serviceable.”
“It has to be stressed again that all sides need to extend their cooperation so that the Team can safely carry out their important work,” he said.
Nearly an hour before the team left, several mortar shells fell about 700 yards from their hotel, wounding three people.
The Syrian government said the UN team was subjected to fire by “terrorist gangs” and claimed Syrian forces provided safety for the team until they reached a position controlled by the rebels, where it claimed the sniper attack occurred.
“The Syrian government holds the terrorist gangs responsible for the safety of the United Nations team,” said the government statement broadcast on Syrian TV.
Wassim al-Ahmad, a member of the Moadamiyeh local council, said five UN investigators eventually arrived at a makeshift hospital in the suburb, where doctors and about 100 people still with symptoms from the attack were brought in to meet them.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the eastern suburbs have witnessed a wide army offensive over the last week, but have been relatively quiet since Sunday night.
Syrian activists and opposition leaders have said that between 322 and 1,300 people were killed in the attack.