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Logistical Snags Force Syria Inspection Trip Delay

A Free Syrian Army fighter runs after attacking a tank with a rocket-propelled grenade last September in the city of Aleppo. "Technical hitches" have reportedly forced U.N. inspectors to postpone a trip into Syria to investigate claims of chemical-weapon use in its civil war (AP Photo/Manu Brabo). A Free Syrian Army fighter runs after attacking a tank with a rocket-propelled grenade last September in the city of Aleppo. "Technical hitches" have reportedly forced U.N. inspectors to postpone a trip into Syria to investigate claims of chemical-weapon use in its civil war (AP Photo/Manu Brabo).

On Sunday, a team of U.N. inspectors led by Swedish arms expert Ake Sellstrom postponed indefinitely its planned two-week mission to Syria after planning snags arose, CBS News reported.

The original departure date for the trip, which will investigate alleged chemical weapons use at three sites in the Middle Eastern nation, was to be Monday, but "technical hitches" forced the team of 10 experts to postpone the journey to Damascus, according to unnamed U.N. sources cited by the network.

Negotiations with the Syrian government have been difficult, with onsite logistics playing a major role in the delay, according to CBS News.

Khan Assal is the only site of the three that has been publicly identified by the U.N. inspectors. That town recently shifted into opposition control, but rebels have said the investigators would be given open access. Ataybah and Homs are reportedly the two other sites, which have not been confirmed on the basis of security concerns.

A total of 13 reports of chemical attack in Syria have been received by the United Nations, CBS cited the international body as saying last week. More than 100,000 people have been killed in the two-year-old civil war, with the vast majority of casualties attributed to conventional attacks.

The U.N. inspection mission's stated goal is not to determine which side used chemical weapons, but whether chemical weapons have been used in the conflict. However, some critics have said that such an inquiry without the goal of attribution would offer limited value.

According to an unnamed source for CBS News, the team "will notify the Syrians when they are ready to head to the country."

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