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Paper: UN team could submit Syria report next week

By Peter James Spielmann

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Sept. 7 2013 3:06 p.m. MDT

Protesters against U.S. military action in Syria march to Capitol Hill from the White House in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. President Barack Obama has asked the U.S. Congress to approve the use of force. A final vote in the U.S. Senate is expected at the end of the coming week. A U.S. House vote is likely in the week of Sept. 16.

Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press

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BERLIN — A German newspaper reported Saturday a team of U.N. chemical weapons inspectors could submit initial findings from its tests of samples collected in Syria by the end of next week.

The respected weekly Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung said the interim report to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will likely contain details on the gas, ammunition and delivery systems used in the attack that killed hundreds of people in a suburb of Damascus.

But chief U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Saturday that "we have said many times that there will be no preliminary report. The report on the Aug. 21 incident will be given to the (Security) Council and other member states once the lab analysis is complete. We are not saying when that will be, except as soon as feasible. This is a scientific timeline, not a political timeline."

Western diplomats from three major U.N. powers told The Associated Press that this was the procedure they understood was in place, and said they had never heard of there being any possibility of an interim report. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

A Western ambassador who was briefed by top U.N. officials Monday said the analysis had been sped up and scientists were working around the clock to be able to produce a report in two to three weeks, which could be as early as next weekend. He spoke on condition of anonymity to a handful of reporters.

The newspaper said Saturday its report was based on information provided by two unnamed persons close to the inspection team.

The paper reported that the inspectors collected almost 100 samples from the site of the attack, including pieces of rubble and ammunitions remains, as well as hair, tissue, blood and urine samples from humans and animals.

Peter James Spielmann reported from the United Nations.

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