Syria okays UN probe, US weighs military action

Last Updated: Sun, Aug 25, 2013 20:05 hrs

Damascus: UN experts are tomorrow to start investigating the site of an alleged Syrian chemical weapons attack after a go-ahead from Damascus, as a sceptical Washington said Syria's acceptance had come too late.

In an escalation of a showdown over a suspected chemical weapons attack near Damascus last week, the United States pointed the finger of blame at President Bashar al-Assad's regime as it weighed military action.

"There is very little doubt at this point that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in this incident," based on the reported number of victims and their symptoms, as well as US and other foreign intelligence, one official in Washington told AFP.

Syria's opposition says more than 1,300 people died when regime forces unleashed chemical weapons against rebel-held towns east and southwest of Damascus on August 21, while Doctors Without Borders said 355 people had died of "neurotoxic" symptoms.

Damascus has strongly denied it carried out such an attack, instead blaming the rebels.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told a Jerusalem press conference on Sunday there was "no doubt" the Damascus regime was behind the suspected attack.

"From the moment the substance of the facts is established incontestably (by the UN inspectors), there will necessarily be a strong response," he added.

Moscow bluntly warned the West that military action against the Syrian regime would be a "tragic mistake".

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