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Syria

Syria allows access to alleged chemical weapons sites

Syria has agreed to allow United Nations inspectors to visit sites where chemical weapons have reportedly been used. They will have access to three areas of concern, the UN has said.

UN inspectors will visit three sites to investigate accusations they may have been targeted by chemical weapons during the country's two-year civil war, the UN said Wednesday.

"On the basis of the information evaluated by the mission to date and further to the understanding reached with the government of Syria, the mission will travel to Syria as soon as possible to contemporaneously investigate three of the reported incidents, including Khan al-Asal," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said in a statement.

According the Syrian government, opposition forces used chemical weapons to attack Khan al-Asal, which lies near the northern city of Aleppo, in March. It said at least 26 people, including 16 government soldiers, were killed. Opposition rebels denied the attack, placing the blame on regime forces.

The two other locations for the visit have not yet been disclosed.

Although Damascus called for a UN inquiry into the use of banned arms in March it had so far only agreed access to Khan al-Assal.

Wednesday's announcement followed an accord reached between the Syrian government and UN representatives who visited the country last week to agree the terms of an investigation.

The UN had initially demanded open access to 13 locations, following evidence of chemical weapons use by government forces supplied by Britain, France and the United States in recent months.

The UN estimates that at least 100,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict erupted 28 months ago.

ccp/ng (AFP, Reuters)