"The samples were shipped this afternoon (Monday) from The Hague and will reach their destination within hours," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

"The designated laboratories are prepared to begin the analyses immediately after receipt of samples,” Nesirky said.

A UN fact-finding group, led by Swedish specialist Ake Sellstrom, was created by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in March at the request of the Syrian government.

The team, initially set to investigate the alleged March 19 chemical attacks on Khan al-Asal in the northern province of Aleppo and two other undisclosed sites, arrived in Syria on August 18.

The investigators were later told to travel to the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, where chemical weapons were allegedly used on August 21, to collect evidence.

"Since the return of the mission on 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 spokesman said.

“The Secretary General had on Sunday discussed with Sellstrom on how to expedite the process of analyzing the samples according to established international standards and regulations," said the spokesman.

He did not disclose how long the process of sample analysis will take. The spokesman said the Secretary General will share the initial report with member states and the UN Security Council.


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