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Syria: UN Can Inspect Site Of Alleged Chemical Attack

10:22 AM, Aug 25, 2013   |    comments
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SYRIA -- The Syrian government has apparently reached an agreement to allow a U.N. team to visit the site of an alleged chemical attack as the Obama administration continued this weekend to review its military options for responding to the violence in Syria.

The administration has said that the use of chemical weapons would be considered a red line that would trigger a response by the United States.

Quoting Syria state television, the Associated Press reported that the Syrian government agreed to allow the U.N. team to visit the locations near the capital of Damascus.

Traveling in Asia, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Sunday the United States was still reviewing the intelligence to determine if the Syrian government used chemical weapons in an attack last week that rebels said killed hundreds of civilians.

"We, along with our allies, are continuing to assess the intelligence and the specifics of that intelligence on the use of chemical weapons," Hagel said.

It is not clear if an agreement to allow U.N. inspectors to visit the site would delay any action on behalf of the United States or its allies.

Hagel said the Pentagon has presented President Obama with a range of options and the Pentagon is prepared to act once a decision is made."We are prepared to exercise whatever option, if he decides to employ one of those options."

A statement read on state TV said the Syrian government and the U.N. are working to set the date and time of the visit to the agreed-upon locations near the capital purportedly hit by chemical agents on Aug. 22. Activists said the alleged chemical attack that they say killed hundreds of civilians in rebel-held areas around Damascus took place on Aug. 21.

The Associated Press asked the Foreign Ministry about the discrepancy in the dates. The ministry replied that the statement was correct.

Experts have said that it is critical to get immediate access to the site, because evidence degrades over time.

 

USA TODAY

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