Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the United Nations to Wall Street to the Inner City

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Follow us on TWITTER

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

MRL on Beacon Reader

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

On Syria, UN 2d Report by End of October, Now Early December - Why?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 31 -- Why has the UN's second chemical weapons report, including on Khan al Asal, been pushed back from the end of October into "early December"? Video here and embedded (second) below.

   The UN's chemical weapon team under Ake Sellstrom first went to Syria to look into Khan al Asal, where Syria said rebels used sarin gas. But once in Damascus, the team shifted its focus to a later, August 31 incident in Al Ghouta.

It reported quickly on that, then returned to Syria -- ostensibly, to look into Khan al Asal and other locations. On September 30, UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky announced that 

"the team of chemical weapons investigators led by Professor Ake Sellström, which was in Syria to investigate allegations of the use of chemical weapons there, has just left the country after completing its six-day mission. The team will now move to the phase of finalizing its report, which the team hopes will be ready by late October."

Even then, on October 4, Inner City Press asked about limitations on that visit, including not visiting Khan al Asal: (Video here)

Inner City Press: Khan al-Asal, without any disrespect, I just wanted a simple answer why the UN never went to Khan al-Asal. I read it a number of times; maybe I am being dense, but was it that it they couldn’t get there? Was it was too deteriorated? I am not suggesting those are the reasons, I just wanna know what the reason is.

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, it does say, not in that particular part that you have in front of you; it does say on 30 September, that transcript from Monday, or let’s be clear about it: I said there are a number of reasons, potential reasons. And one of those includes that with the passage of time, it becomes… I don’t think you expect me, I know you are reading what I said, you don’t think you’d expect me to say exactly what I said on Monday?

Inner City Press: I am asking you a substantive question; what would you say to those who say it’s a shame if the request, the initial request to go to Syria was to visit this one place... it seems to cry, to call out for an answer of why what was initially requested was not done.

Spokesperson: Right, right, so, listen: As I have said, as I have said here a number of times, there are a number of factors why it was not possible or feasible to go. And one of those is that with the passage of time, there is a deterioration of the material that could be used for sampling, and, therefore, to help decide whether chemical weapons were used or not. But as I also said, there is a portfolio of different ways that the team, the investigation team, can gather evidence and try to determine at a distance whether chemical weapons were used. That’s one of the possible constraints. Another is obviously security. And with regard to the broader question about the passage of time, everybody knows that it was not for want of trying that the team did not get there until August. As you well know from March, there was extremely hard work done on both sides — meaning the Syrian authorities and the United Nations in the form of the Office for Disarmament Affairs — to make this work. It was not easy. And that’s been plainly said by any number of people, including the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. But the fact of the matter is that everyone persevered because there was an interest to get in. And eventually, they were able to get in and they were able then to determine that chemical weapons had indeed been used in that incident on 21 August; and they furthermore have continued both outside and then, on a subsequent visit to Syria that ended on Monday, to gather material so that they can present a final report at the end of this month.

When October 31 arrived without any report, Inner City Press went to the UN's noon briefing and asked about the status of Sellstrom's report (video here)

Inner City Press: on Syria and chemical weapons, since it is now the end of October, I wanted to ask for a status update of the second Sellström report on Khan al-Asal, on the other sites, where does this stand?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, you’re right it’s 31 October, trick or treat. So Professor Sellström is working on the final report in coordination with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and World Health Organization experts who were part of the UN mission. A number of samples are still being analysed by the designated laboratories and the results are expected to be provided to the UN Mission early next week. The final report is expected to be finalized in early December, after all information gathered by the UN mission has been evaluated. Other questions, please.

So why, after the speed up of Sellstrom's report into al Ghouta, which Ban Ki-moon declared to be "overwhelming" before he even saw it, has his reporting including Khan al Asal been delayed for more than a month? That has not been answered. Watch this site.


Share |

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

Click for re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-2013 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]