U.S. and British officials have briefed United Nations investigators on 10 alleged chemical-weapon attacks by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, a U.N. diplomatic official told Agence France-Presse on Wednesday.
The purported attacks began in December and included one or more from May, envoys said. France submitted information previously. Assad's government has not so far permitted entry by the U.N. task force charged with examining such claims.
In two-way talks on Tuesday, Russia and the United States were unable to reach agreement on essential details of a hoped-for international conference on negotiating an end to the Syrian civil war, Reuters reported.
The former Cold War rivals agreed in May to work together in sponsoring the peace summit, but in the weeks since then, bilateral ties have been strained. At the same time, loyalists to the Bashar Assad regime have won some recent important military victories, reducing the desire by supporters of the Syrian opposition movement to convene peace talks at a time when their negotiating position would be seen as weaker.
Moscow and Washington remain in disagreement over who should negotiate on behalf of the Syrian rebels and whether Iran should be permitted to participate in the peace conference. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his U.S. equivalent, John Kerry, are slated to hold talks next week and Syria is expected to be on the agenda.
The United States and allied nations are worried about reported limited use of chemical weapons by Assad forces in Syria, and about the possibility that more chemical attacks could take place, possibly spilling into other nations.
Jordanian King Abdullah this week said "it has become clear to all that the Syrian crisis may extend from being a civil war to a regional and sectarian conflict ... the extent of which is unknown," Reuters separately reported.
"It is time for a more serious Arab and international coordination to stop the deteriorating of the Syrian crisis," the king said in an interview with the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper. "The situation cannot wait any longer."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday reiterated warnings that his country would respond militarily if threatened. Jerusalem "is not looking to challenge anybody but nobody will harm Israel," he was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.