Syria will allow UN inspectors to visit the site of a reported chemical weapons attack. The alleged attack happened last week in a suburb of Damascus.
The visitation was announced on Syrian state television by Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, who explained that UN disarmament chief Angela Kane struck the deal with the government.
Both sides are still finalizing a time for the visit, but it will likely happen soon, as there are already UN inspectors in Syria investigating other reported chemical weapons attacks that happened earlier this year.
The Huffington Post reports that anti-government activists have already confirmed the chemical weapons attack, saying that more than 300 people were killed in the attack on Wednesday morning. Another 3,000 were injured.
UN investigators are “preparing to conduct on-site fact-finding activities” on Monday. Images showing the reported aftermath of last week’s attack showed people gasping for breath and the bodies of children with no apparent wounds.
The deal between Syria and the UN comes as the United States is considering a possible military response to the attack. Reuters notes that President Obama has been reluctant to intervene in the civil war. US officials stressed on Sunday that no decision has been made.
While neither side of the Syrian conflict has taken responsibility for the deadly chemical weapons attack, US Secretary of State John Kerry commented in phone calls that there is “very little doubt” the Syrian government was responsible for the chemical attack. Kerry apparently emphasized the point in calls to the foreign ministers of France, Britain, and Canada.
Experts watching the situation in Syria have said that the government’s decision to allow inspectors into the area could be an attempt to halt international intervention. It is unclear if it will be successful. President Obama has said in the past that chemical weapons use by the Syrian government would be the red line for US intervention. However, the situation is much more complicated than that.
President Obama is reportedly seeking international support before he considers military intervention. That will likely depend on what the UN inspectors find after searching the latest alleged chemical weapons attack site.
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