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U.N. inspectors heading to Syria to probe chemical weapons reports

By Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 9:10 PM EDT, Wed July 31, 2013
A government forces tank is seen in the Khalidiyah neighbourhood of Syria's central city of Homs on July 28, 2013.
A government forces tank is seen in the Khalidiyah neighbourhood of Syria's central city of Homs on July 28, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • U.N. inspectors will go to Syria "as soon as possible" to probe chemical weapons use
  • They'll look into 3 incidents, including one in which Syria has accused rebel fighters
  • The U.S. believes Syrian forces crossed a "red line" by using chemical weapons
  • More than 100,000 have been killed since Syria's civil war began over two yaers ago

(CNN) -- U.N. inspectors will travel to Syria "as soon as possible" to investigate three reports of chemical weapons use, a U.N. spokesperson said Wednesday.

The announcement of the upcoming visit followed talks last week between Syria's government and a U.N. representative for disarmament affairs, according to the U.N. statement.

Syria has been embroiled in a bloody civil war for more than two years, during which more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions have been displaced or become refugees in other countries, according to the United Nations.

Author: Iraq and Syria disintegrating
The view from Homs

Amid the fighting, there have been numerous allegations that chemical weapons have been used.

In June, the White House said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces had crossed a "red line" by using chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin gas, against rebel forces. This prompted the U.S. government to begin providing military support to opposition fighters, despite its earlier reluctance to do so.

Syria's government, meanwhile, has claimed rebel fighters have used chemical weapons as well.

That includes a March incident in Khan al-Asal in the northern province of Aleppo, according to state media. Opposition officials have said rebels don't have access to chemical weapons or the missiles needed to use them in an attack, while other rebel leaders said Syrian troops fired "chemical rockets" at civilians and opposition forces.

The Khan al-Asal will be one of the three incidents that U.N. inspectors will look into during their upcoming visit, according to the U.N. spokesperson.

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