UN Fact-Finders Attacked in Syria

Amid reports they were kidnapped, watchdog group says staffers safe
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 27, 2014 7:26 AM CDT
Updated May 27, 2014 7:40 AM CDT
In this Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 file citizen journalism image, members of a UN investigation team take samples from the ground in the countryside of Zamalka, Syria.   (AP Photo/Local Committee of Arbeen, File)

(Newser) – A group of UN and chemical weapons watchdog members came under attack in Syria, according to reports—but stories conflict regarding what happened next, France 24 notes. Syria's foreign ministry said 11 people were kidnapped, six of them UN fact-finders. Officials said opposition fighters were behind the attack, the AP reports. But minutes after that report emerged, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had a different story. Following the attack on "OPCW inspectors and United Nations staff … All team members are safe and well and are traveling back to the operating base," the watchdog said in a statement.

The team has been looking into what the OPCW's director-general calls "persistent allegations of chlorine gas attacks" in Syria. The government had agreed to a temporary ceasefire today in one town to allow the investigation to take place, the foreign ministry said. Four vehicles headed to the town of Kfar Zeita, but one was hit by a roadside bomb, the government said. Only one actually arrived in the town, a fact which may have prompted the kidnapping allegations, the AP notes.

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