Snipers Shoot at UN Team in Syria

Chemical weapons investigation not off to a stellar start
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2013 7:41 AM CDT
Updated Aug 26, 2013 8:00 AM CDT
A U.N. team, that is scheduled to investigate an alleged chemical attack that killed hundreds last week in a Damascus suburb, leaves their hotel in a convoy, in Damascus, Syria, Monday, Aug. 26, 2013.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Syria may have given UN inspectors the OK to access the site of last week's alleged chemical weapons attack, but inspections are not off to a great start. A UN rep confirms that one of the team's vehicles was "deliberately shot at multiple times" by unidentified snipers in Damascus; all are safe. The shooting reportedly occurred in the buffer zone between rebel- and government-controlled territory, and the team will head back to the area once it replaces its vehicle, reports the AP. The Syrian government, for its part, has already blamed "terrorists," reports CNN. More:

  • Once they finally reach the site of last week's alleged attack, UN inspectors will spend two days taking soil, blood, urine, and tissue samples, reports the BBC. But Reuters reports that the US and its allies aren't expecting much: They believe the regime's offer to allow inspectors to the site came too late and any remaining evidence has probably been destroyed by heavy shelling. To wit, a senior White House official dismissed the visit as "too late to be credible."
  • Assad, meanwhile, says that any American attempt at military intervention will be doomed to fail. "Failure awaits the United States as in all previous wars it has unleashed, starting with Vietnam and up to the present day," he said in an interview with a Russian newspaper.
  • UN chief Ban Ki-moon warns that "every hour counts" in determining the facts of what was a "major and terrible incident," reports the Guardian. "We cannot allow impunity in what appears to be a grave crime against humanity," he said.
  • But the UN Security Council, which is split on the issue, has already failed to shoulder its responsibilities and the UK and its allies may have to take action without its approval, Britain's foreign minister says. "Is it possible to respond to chemical weapons without complete unity on the UN Security Council?" William Hague tells the BBC. "I would argue yes it is, otherwise it might be impossible to respond to such outrages."
(Read more Syria stories.)

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