* New reported attacks in Adra, Daraya and Saraqeb
* Syrian government has denied using chemical weapons
* U.N. investigative team still unable to enter Syria
(Adds diplomat on dates of alleged attacks, Susan Rice,
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS, May 29 (Reuters) - Britain has written to
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about additional suspected
chemical weapons attacks by Syrian government forces in March
and April, British U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said on
"We continue to inform the Secretary-General and Mr.
Sellstrom of any information as, and when, we get it," he said,
referring to the Swedish head of a U.N. chemical weapons
investigation team, Ake Sellstrom.
He declined to provide details, but a U.N. official said on
condition of anonymity that the three specific incidents
referred to in Lyall Grant's letter have been previously
One was an alleged attack in Adra near Damascus, which a
Western diplomat said on condition of anonymity took place on
In that incident, Syrian opposition campaigners said forces
loyal to President Bashar al-Assad fired what they said were
chemical weapons from multiple rocket launchers at rebel
fighters surrounding an army base in the town of Adra on the
outskirts of Damascus, killing two fighters and wounding 23.
The opposition alleged that Assad's forces used chemical
weapons again in late April in Daraya, a suburb of Damascus, and
in Saraqeb around the same time. The Western diplomat said the
Daraya incident occurred on April 25 and the Saraqeb attack on
The government has denied using chemical weapons and has in
turn accused rebels of deploying them in the two-year civil war
that the United Nations says has killed over 80,000 people.
A senior French official said on Monday that France was
testing samples of suspected chemical weapon elements used
against Syrian rebels and smuggled out by reporters from Le
Monde newspaper and will divulge the results in the next few
The opposition Syrian National Coalition said in a statement
last week that forces loyal to Assad used chemical weapons a
second time in Adra in an attack that killed four and injured
INCREASING REPORTS OF CHEMICAL ATTACKS
Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari did not respond
immediately to a request for comment.
A senior U.N. official said last week that the world body
was receiving increasing reports of the use of chemical weapons
in Syria as the violence escalates.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters that U.S.
officials have twice briefed Sellstrom and his team "including a
few weeks ago in Washington where he had the opportunity to sit
with U.S. experts and to hear our best understanding of the
information available to us at that time."
Sellstrom's team of chemical weapons experts has been ready
for more than a month to enter Syria to investigate the
allegations but has been held up by diplomatic wrangling and
Ban has urged Syria to give the experts unfettered access to
investigate all alleged chemical arms incidents. But Assad's
government only wants the U.N. team to probe the Aleppo incident
from March, not the alleged December Homs attack. U.N. diplomats
say U.N.-Syria negotiations on access have reached a deadlock.
Britain and France wrote to Ban earlier this year to urge
him to investigate three alleged chemical weapons attacks in the
vicinity of Homs in December and Damascus and Aleppo in March.
Ban has urged Syria to permit Sellstrom's team to investigate
both the Homs and Aleppo incidents.
Earlier this month, Carla Del Ponte, a member of a U.N.
inquiry commission looking at allegations of war crimes in
Syria, said the panel had gathered testimony from casualties and
medical staff indicating that rebel forces had used the banned
nerve agent sarin.
But the commission, which is separate from Sellstrom's
chemical weapons investigation team, quickly issued a statement
distancing itself from Del Ponte's remarks, saying it has
reached no conclusions on whether any side in the Syrian war has
used chemical weapons.
Syria, which is not a member of the anti-chemical weapons
convention, is believed to have one of the world's last
remaining stockpiles of undeclared chemical arms.
(Additional reporting by Mohammed Abbas in London; Editing by