Gunmen shoot at weapons experts' vehicle in Damascus: UN

NEW YORK CITY (AFP) - Snipers shot at United Nations experts on Monday, forcing them to pull back from an attempt to investigate a chemical weapons attack near Damascus, a spokesman said.

No injuries were reported when the first vehicle in a UN convoy was hit as it headed for Ghouta, east of the Syrian capital, but the team had to head back toward their base, said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky.

"The first vehicle of the chemical weapons investigation team was deliberately shot at multiple times by unidentified snipers in the buffer zone area," Mr Nesirky said.

"As the car was no longer serviceable, the team returned safely back to the government checkpoint," he added. "The team will return to the area after replacing the vehicle."

Hundreds of people were killed in an attack last week at Ghouta in which chemical weapons were allegedly used. Western nations have blamed President Bashar al-Assad's forces for the attack. But the government has blamed opposition rebels.

The UN spokesman gave no other details on the venue of the sniper attack or from where the shooting came from.

But he "stressed again that all sides need to extend their cooperation so that the team can safely carry out their important work."