U.N. chemical weapons inspectors back in Damascus

DAMASCUS, Sept 25 Wed Sep 25, 2013 5:26am EDT

DAMASCUS, Sept 25 (Reuters) - U.N. chemical weapons inspectors returned to Syria on Wednesday to continue investigating allegations of chemical weapons use in the country's two-and-a-half-year conflict.

A convoy of five United Nations cars carrying at least eight members of the team arrived at a central Damascus hotel shortly before midday (0900 GMT), witnesses said.

The inspectors confirmed last week that sarin gas was used in an attack in Damascus which killed hundreds of people.

President Bashar al-Assad's Western opponents said the inspectors' report left little doubt that his forces were to blame for the attack.

Syrian authorities denied the accusation, saying it made no sense for them to wage an attack with chemical weapons when their forces were making advances and while the inspectors were staying just a few miles away in the centre of the capital.

Russia has also said the inspectors' report did not provide irrefutable proof that Assad's forces were responsible, and that Damascus had provided information it said showed rebels were behind the attack.

At the time of the Aug. 21 sarin attack, the inspectors had been in Damascus preparing to investigate three earlier cases of suspected chemical weapons use, including one in March in the northern town of Khan al-Assal.

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