U.N. chemical weapons inspectors in Syria met and took samples from victims of an apparent poison gas attack in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus on Monday after the U.N. team themselves survived a gun attack on their convoy.
August 26, 2013

United Nations inspectors were met with sniper fire when they traveled to a suburb of Damascus in Syria on Monday to investigate an alleged chemical attack. Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continued to deny the allegations that chemical weapons were used and insisted the accusations were politically motivated. “Would any state use chemical weapons or any weapons of mass destruction in a place where its own forces are concentrated,” Assad said on Russian state television. Jordan’s chief of staff Meshaal Mohamed al-Zaban and U.S. Gen. Lloyd Austin, head of Centcom, organized a meeting with representatives from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Canada—while neighboring Turkey said it would support military action by the U.S.


"A Syrian doctor told Reuters from the town of Mouadamiya that investigators from the United Nations had crossed the frontline from the center of the capital, which remains under the control of President Bashar al-Assad's forces. The U.N. said the shooting crippled one vehicle but mentioned no injuries.

With Western powers considering military strikes, despite vocal opposition from Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies, any evidence to support rebel claims that government forces fired gas-laden rockets five days ago that killed hundreds of civilians will be a key element in arguments for peace or war.

"I am with the team now," the doctor who uses the name Abu Karam told Reuters by telephone from rebel-held Mouadamiya.

"We are in the Rawda mosque and they are meeting with the wounded. Our medics and the inspectors are talking to the patients and taking samples from the victims now."'

In response to growing speculation about a United States military response to the situation in Syria, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said any operation would be coordinated with allies.

"We are analyzing the intelligence. And we will get the facts. And if there is any action taken, it will be in concert with the international community and within the framework of legal justification."

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