The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

August 28, 2013

UN envoy: Syria 'substance' may have killed 1,000

— GENEVA (AP) — Evidence suggests that some kind of "substance" was used in Syria that may have killed more than 1,000 people, but any military strike in response must first gain U.N. Security Council approval, special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said Wednesday.

Brahimi spoke to reporters in Geneva as U.N. chemical weapons experts headed to a Damascus suburb for another look at the alleged poison gas attack near Damascus on Aug. 21 and as momentum built for Western military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

"With what has happened on the 21st of August last week, it does seem that some kind of substance was used that killed a lot of people: hundreds, definitely more than a hundred, some people say 300, some people say 600, maybe 1,000, maybe more than 1,000 people," said Brahimi, who has been the U.N. and Arab League's special envoy to Syria since August 2012.

"This was of course unacceptable. This is outrageous. This confirms how dangerous the situation in Syria is and how important for the Syrians and the international community to really develop the political will to address this issue seriously, and look for a solution for it," he said.

Brahimi did not say on what he based his information, but he did discuss the work of the U.N. team probing for evidence of the use of chemical weapons.

"The United Nations has inspectors on the spot. They have already spent one day in one area where this substance — whatever it is — has been used," he said. "They have come back with a lot of samplings, they talked also to doctors, they talked to witnesses."

He said his information did not come from Western intelligence, including what U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called "undeniable" evidence of a large-scale chemical attack likely launched by Assad's regime.

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