(WASHINGTONPOST) — U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon renewed an appeal Monday to Syria to allow U.N. chemical weapons experts into the country, saying that on-site inspections are essential to “establish the facts and clear up all the doubts” surrounding the reported use of the banned weapons in Syria’s escalating civil war.

Ban’s remarks — delivered the with chief U.N. chemical weapons inspector, Ake Sellstrom of Sweden, at his side — followed allegations by several countries, including the United States, that chemical weapons were likely used in Syria in recent months.

Ban spoke hours after Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halki narrowly escaped a car bomb that targeted his convoy Monday morning as it moved through an upper-class neighborhood of Damascus. State television said he was unharmed. At least nine people were killed and 17 injured in the blast, according to Mayadeen television, a network loyal to Assad.

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