A team of 20 UN experts arrived in Damascus on Sunday to begin looking into allegations that both the government and rebels are using chemical weapons in Syria.
Negotiations with the Syrian government over access have held up the team since April.
Meanwhile the fighting continues. Footage uploaded onto a social networking site purports to show rebel shelling near the al-Qarmid military base in Idlib on Friday. It also shows the bombing of a tower in Damascus.
Thousands of of people fleeing the violence are crossing the border into Iraqi Kurdistan, according to the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees. Many are Syrian Kurds using a recently-constructed pontoon bridge over the Tigris in northern Iraq.
Some who have witnessed the violence blame al-Qaeda linked militants, like one man who said: “What international norms can justify this? They are cutting off heads, heads of children are being cut off. A group of Al-Nusra Front have permitted the slaughtering of Kurdish people.”
Another refugee described the situation back home: “There is a famine in our area and there are no jobs. People are displaced and the situation is getting worse day by day. With every passing day, the damage inflicted on the country becomes greater. There is no more security.”
The UN says the latest refugees arriving in northern Iraq have come from conflict areas such as Aleppo, Hassakeh and Qamishli. Some already have family living in in northern Iraq.