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Updated: September 11, 2013 16:55 IST

UN report on Syria chemical weapons expected on Monday

DPA
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Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn.
AP
Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn.

A report by UN inspectors investigating last month’s chemical weapons attack in Syria could be released on Monday, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn told Deutschlandfunk public radio, “According to my information, the inspectors’ report will come next Monday.”

Mr. Asselborn appealed to the Security Council’s five veto powers to reach a consensus on dealing with the conflict, now in its third year. Luxembourg is a non-permanent member of the Security Council.

US President Barack Obama said in an address to the nation late Tuesday that while diplomatic initiatives related to a Russian plan to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control had produced some “encouraging signs,” it was too early tell if they would work.

Mr. Obama said the US would hold off on a planned military strike to give the diplomatic efforts a chance and would give UN inspectors the opportunity to report their findings.

In a televised speech from the White House, he cited Russia’s willingness to push allied Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to relinquish chemical weapons and Damascus’ sudden willingness to join the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention.

The US has repeatedly accused al-Assad’s regime of using chemical weapons in an attack near Damascus on August 21, which Washington says killed 1,429 people. The Syrian government has denied responsibility.

Mr. Obama however would continue to rally support from allies on the need for military action against Syria and keep its military forces at the ready.

France also said it remains “mobilized to punish the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime and to dissuade it from doing it again” President Francois Hollande said after a meeting with his Security Council on Wednesday.

But Mr. Hollande was also determined “to explore all routes at the UN Security Council, to allow an effective and verifiable control of chemical weapons present in Syria,” the presidency said in a statement.

UN investigators meanwhile said Syrians were suffering from mounting human rights violations committed by all sides in the increasingly sectarian conflict.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an al-Qaeda-linked group, is killing people on religious grounds, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria added in its latest report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Arbitrary arrests, kidnappings and forced disappearances are also on the rise, according to evidence collected by the UN-appointed experts between May and July.

“The perpetrators of these violations and crimes, on all sides, act in defiance of international law. They do not fear accountability,” the commission said.

More than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria’s war, according to the UN.

In Brussels, the European Parliament was Wednesday to debate Syria with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Russia’s chemical arms proposal was “potentially a positive development.” “The Syrian regime must implement this without delay,” Mr. Barroso told European Parliament.

Syria was also to be the centre of a meeting by Arab League ambassadors in Cairo. The pan-Arab organization has welcomed Russia’s proposal.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Russian State Duma’s foreign policy committee, Alexei Pushkov, said that Moscow should widen arms shipments to Iran and cancel agreements that allows NATO countries to transit military goods through Russia should the US strike Syria.

The Duma was to adopt a resolution on Syria later on Wednesday.

Russia, a key ally of al-Assad, has denied it was to blame for the cancellation of an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Syria.

“We initiated the meeting but the decision to cancel it was taken upon the request of other Security Council members,” the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

The meeting was called off shortly before its scheduled holding on Tuesday over rifts between Moscow and Washington over the Russian proposal, according to diplomats at the UN.

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