Syria has said it will not accept a team proposed by UN chief Ban Ki-moon to probe the alleged use of chemical weapons in protest at its broad mandate. Syria originally only requested the probe for an incident in Aleppo.
"Syria regrets that Ban Ki-moon has yielded to the pressures practiced by countries known for their support to the Syrian bloodshed in order to divert the consultations in this regard from their real context," the state-run SANA news agency quoted a foreign ministry source as saying late Monday.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government had originally requested the inspection for a village in the northern province of Aleppo.
The source has accused the UN chief of requesting "additional tasks" for the UN team to deploy in all Syrian territories and said that "this contradicts the Syrian request from the UN and indicates the presence of hidden intentions which clearly violates Syria's sovereignty."
The source added that "Syria can not accept such maneuvers on the part of the UN secretariat general, bearing in mind the negative role that it played in Iraq and which cleared the way to the American invasion" of that country in 2003.
On Monday, Ban said that a UN inspection team, provided by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), was in Cyprus and ready to deploy to nearby Syria to probe the alleged use of chemical weapons in the conflict.
There have been three alleged chemical weapons attacks. The first was in Homs in December, followed by one near Aleppo and another near Damascus, both in March. Assad's government and the opposition blame each other for all of them. The opposition has also called for a probe into the alleged chemical attacks.
The civil war between President Assad and the anti-government opposition recently entered its third year. Over 70,000 have died since the fighting began, according to the United Nations. Over one million refugees have fled into neighboring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan to escape the violence and destruction.
Bomb blast in Damascus
On Monday, a car bomb exploded in the Syrian capital's central district, causing damage to nearby buildings and killing at least 15 people and injuring more than 50.
"Terrorists detonated a car bomb between Sabaa Bahrat square and Shahbander Street," the Syrian broadcaster said.
Television footage showed firefighters on the scene trying to extinguish the flames from nearby cars. The Syrian central bank, a mosque and a school are located nearby.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
hc/jm (Reuters, AP, AFP)