Ban discussed with Ake Sellström, head of the UN Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria, on how to expedite the process of analyzing the samples according to established international standards and regulations.

"Since the return of the Mission last Saturday, the UN team worked around the clock to finalize the preparations of the samples in view of their shipment to the designated laboratories. The samples were shipped this afternoon from The Hague and will reach their destination within hours," the spokesperson said on Sunday.

The designated laboratories are prepared to begin the analyses immediately after receipt of samples, he added. Meanwhile, Ban continued to be in close contact with the five permanent members of the Security Council and will brief the 10 non-permanent members of the Council on the latest developments tomorrow.

"Also Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, is due to brief Member States that wrote to the Secretary-General requesting the investigation of the alleged use of chemical weapons in Ghouta area of Damascus on 21 August 2013," the spokesperson said.

Syrian opposition and the West have accused President Bashar Al-Assad's forces of using chemical weapons on August 21 in a Damascus suburb, a charge denied by the government. US Secretary of State John Kerry has claimed that blood and hair samples collected from the chemical attack site in Syria have "tested positive for signatures of sarin gas".

He pushed for a military strike against the Assad regime over its alleged use of the deadly weapon.

(Agencies)

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