Iran’s foreign minister says Syria will allow UN inspectors to investigate chemical weapons allegations

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iran’s foreign minister says the Syrian government will allow UN inspectors to visit areas reportedly affected by chemical weapons, according to Iranian press reports.

Syrian opposition groups have accused government forces of killing over 1,000 civilians with poison gas in Damascus suburbs on Wednesday.

The accusation has been dismissed by the Syrian government, which says rebels launched chemical attacks to provoke an international reaction, an account backed by Iran and Russia, another ally.

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made the comments in a telephone conversation with Italian foreign minister Emma Bonino on Saturday, according to reports from Iran’s Press TV.

“We are in close contact with the Syrian government and they have reassured us that they had never used such inhumane weapons and would have the fullest cooperation with the UN experts to visit the areas affected,” Mr Zarif said.

US defence secretary Chuck Hagel said the Washington was ready to take action against Syria if required, but stressed that allegations of chemical weapons use were still being evaluated.

“President Obama has asked the defence department to prepare options for all contingencies. We have done that,” Mr Hagel told reporters in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

“Again, we are prepared to exercise whatever option, if he decides to employ one of those options.

“I wouldn’t go further than that until we have more intelligence based on facts.”

Iran is Syria’s closest ally and is supporting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad against opposition forces seeking to overthrow him.

“The international community must show a serious reaction to the use of chemical weapons by the terrorists in Syria and condemn this move,” Mr Zarif said, according to the English-language Press TV report.

By ABC Online


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