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From Syria, UN Says Translators Left, Ban Respects E10 & Asks for Evidence

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 30 -- On Syria, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's office put back Friday's "noon" briefing to 12:30, to report on Ban's meeting with the Permanent Five members of the Security Council.

 But Ban's spokesperson Martin Nesirky read-out only only Ban's words, not for example those of US Ambassador Samantha Power, who declined questions on the way in and out.

  Inner City Press asked Nesirky what Ban thinks of countries like Turkey and the US which make public summaries of what they call evidence of Assad's guilt for what happened in Ghouta. Nesirky said Ban has encouraged countries to share their evidence with the UN. Video here from Minute 11:40, here and embedded below.

  So Inner City Press asked if Turkey (or, say, the US) have in fact shared information with the UN. The fact Nesirky repeated that Ban encourages them to seems to imply they have not.

  Amid reports of some of the UN chemical weapons team already leaving Syria, Inner City Press asked if it is true some left for Lebanon.. Nesirky said yes, but only translators and interpreters. Apparently on the inspectors' final day, these are not necessary?

  Later Inner City Press asked about the phrase Ban's associate spokesperson Farhan Haq used in an answer to the Press this week: that the UN team will construct an "evidence based narrative." Does that mean, where the missiles came from?

  Nesirky said it means statements by witnesses and survivors. Okay - would this include those in the military hospital the team just visited? Nesirky would not say if those inside were soldiers, citing medical privacy. (We've reported that in the Eastern Congo the UN obtained medical records of victims of rapes committed by the UN's partners in the Congolese Army's 391 and 41 Battalions.)

  But did these interviews respond to Syria's requests to inspect three new sites, Bahariya on August 22, Jobar on August 24 and Ashrafiyat Sahnaya on August 25?

After John Kerry delivered a slightly delayed statement including calling France the US' oldest ally, two Senior Administration Officials told the press that the US has the evidence, including from NGOs.

  One official spoke of "geo spacial" evidence, then mentioned gas masks. The second official mused that Assad had wanted to knock out opposition around Damascus, to "invest" in a campaign on Aleppo.

  In the Q&A session, Reuters wanted to know why Obama hasn't made a decision to bomb Damascus yet.

  Reference was made to Obama speaking about Syria with three allies, who turned out to be the Baltics of Estonia, Lithuania & Latvia. At the UN one wondered that Obama, if only as a fluke of scheduling, could speak to countries like these while Ban spoke only to the Permanent Five.

  Back at the UN, Inner City Press asked why Ban had convened only the Permanent Five? Some elected non-permanent members of the Council have complained to Inner City Press they were left out, not even shown the UK draft resolution.

  Nesirky said Ban told the Presidency -- for now, Argentina - that he is willing to brief the full Council. Video here, from Minute 28:22.

 Still to some, proceeding this way unnecessarily magnifies the power of the Five.

Ban will leave New York again on Tuesday. Will he meet the elected Ten before then? Will the US bomb Syria before that? Watch this site.


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