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UN Inspectors visit Syrian military hospital in Damascus

DAMASCUS, Aug. 30 -– UN chemical weapons inspectors on Friday visited a military hospital in eastern Damascus, as part of their broader investigation into reports that chemical weapons were used on August 21, a RIA Novosti correspondent in the Syrian capital reports.

Syria's state-run news agency SANA reported that Syrian soldiers had "suffered from cases of suffocation" after what it called a nerve gas attack in Syria's Ghouta region on August 21.

The Syrian government and opposition rebel fighters accuse each other of using chemical weapons in an attack on August 21 which resulted in at least 350 fatalities, according to local hospitals. Opposition forces claim the death-toll is up to 1,000, but these claims cannot be verified.

On August 24, the international medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres published a statement saying that, according to sources on the ground in hospitals it supports – over 3,000 people were treated for symptoms that "strongly indicate mass exposure to a nerve agent."

Both the Syrian government and rebel forces deny using chemical weapons.

Since this attack, Western powers have been discussing the possibility of intervening in the Syrian civil war, which has been raging for 2 years and in which at least 100,000 people have died, according to UN figures.

After spending a week visiting the sites in the rebel-controlled areas of Damascus, the team cut short their visit to the Eastern Ghouta district over “security concerns” and returned to their hotel, a security official accompanying UN inspectors told RIA Novosti.

The inspectors, who were scheduled to depart on Sunday, will leave Syria on Saturday. The team’s early departure could clear the way for possible military intervention in Syria, media reports said.

Unidentified snipers hit a vehicle used by the UN chemical weapons investigation team on Monday forcing them to break off from their inquiry for several hours. (PNA/RIA Novosti)


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