DAMASCUS - Syria's government said Thursday it has nothing to hide from a UN team of chemical weapons inspectors that it expects to visit the war-ravaged country in the coming days.
The announcement comes a day after the United Nations said a team of inspectors led by Swedish arms expert Ake Sellstroem would soon depart for Syria after getting the green light from Damascus.
"The negotiations between Syria and the UN ended positively and the team is expected in Syria in the coming days," a foreign ministry official told AFP.
"There were no difficulties in the negotiations and Syria said it is ready to give the team all the facilities it needs to carry out its mission," the official said, adding "Syria has nothing to hide."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman said the team would investigate the sites of alleged chemical weapons attacks for two weeks. The mission has been delayed in the past over differences with President Bashar al-Assad's regime over the scope of the probe into the alleged use of chemical arms in the country's civil war. The United Nations last month reached a framework agreement with the Syrian government on the mission but had been awaiting a final green light from Damascus.
One of the sites to be investigated is Khan al-Assal, near Aleppo, where the government says rebels used chemical weapons on March 19, killing at least 26 people, including 16 Syrian soldiers.
The opposition says government forces carried out the attack. The United Nations has not yet identified the two other sites. "Our goal remains a fully independent and impartial inquiry," said a UN statement.
Meanwhile, US army chief General Martin Dempsey, in Jordan on a visit, has discussed ways to help the Jordanian military tackle fallout from the Syrian conflict, a government official said Thursday.
"Dempsey and Jordanian officials discussed (in Amman) means to help the armed forces deal with the Syrian crisis, which is already burdening the kingdom," the Jordanian official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"Jordan and the Unites States are close allies and the discussions came as part of continued cooperation between the two countries," he said.
A Pentagon statement quoted Dempsey as saying that the types of possible US support that were discussed include border surveillance, intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance assistance and training Jordanian special operations forces. "Here in Jordan, they're particularly interested in what we can do to help them see and secure their very long border with Syria," he said.
Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Dempsey held talks on Wednesday with his Jordanian counterpart Lieutenant General Mashal al-Zaben as well as with King Abdullah II as part of a regional tour.
He warned against the possible consequences of prolonged fighting in Syria, including "everything from terrorism to chemical weapons."
Jordan in particular, Dempsey added in the statement, is concerned about "the possibility this movement in Syria will be hijacked by extremists groups like Al-Nusra (Front)and Ahrar al-Sham."