Syrian Chemical Weapons: Syria to allow UN inspection on the site

Syrian state media said that the government has reached an agreement with the United Nations to allow a UN team of experts to visit the site of last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack.

The Syrian foreign ministry statement broadcast on state television said an agreement to allow UN chemical weapons experts to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in Damascus province had been concluded on Sunday with the UN’s disarmament chief, Angela Kane.

The U.S. had urged the Syrians to let U.N. inspectors visit the areas that were bombarded on Wednesday in suspected chemical attacks that opposition groups said killed around 1,400 people. But the U.S. concluded that evidence at the scene has since been compromised due to continued Syrian shelling and the likely dissipation of any poison gases.

Russia, a key ally of Syria, welcomed the decision to allow the inspectors in but warned the West against pre-empting the results.

Scientists who specialize in neurotoxins, such as Sarin, say its potency quickly dissipates about 30 minutes after exposure. Sarin is increasingly difficult to detect up until around one week after exposure, after which sampling is considered unviable.

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UK Prime Minister David Cameron discussed the situation with US President Barack Obama and the two leaders are understood to have concluded that the regime of Bashar al-Assad was almost certainly responsible for the assault that is believed to have killed as many as 1,400 people in Damascus. Cameron was speaking from his holiday in Cornwall.

Later, Syria’s Information Minister, Omran Zoabi, warned that US military action in Syria would not be a walk in the park. He added that if the US leads a military intervention, this will have dangerous consequences.

It will bring chaos and the region will burn. A year ago, President Obama said that any attempt by Syria to use its chemical weapons would be a red line for the US, and change his administration’s calculus in the region.