One of the U.S. government’s main arguments for why we are supposed to have concluded that Syrian government forces were responsible for the August chemical weapons attack in Damascus is that the rebels being armed by the U.S. whose ranks include al-Qaeda affiliated Islamic extremists didn’t have access to such weapons. But now inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) — which are in Syria disarming its stockpiles after the government under President Bashar al-Assad declared its possession of CW and agreed to allow the teams in for that purpose — are asking to also visit CW sites under that were captured by the rebels and are under their control.
Syria has given the “green light” for UN experts to visit the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb, state TV reports, citing the Foreign Ministry.
“An agreement was concluded today (Sunday) in Damascus between the Syrian government and the United Nations during the visit of the UN high representative for disarmament, Angela Kane, to allow the UN team led by professor Aake Sellstroem to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in Damascus province,” a ministry statement said.
The agreement “is effective immediately”.
The UN said its chemical weapons experts will start probing the site in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta as early as Monday.
Syrian authorities pledge to impose a ceasefire during the UN team inspection.
Russia has welcomed the move but has called on all the sides, “trying to influence the results of the investigation in advance”, not to “make tragic mistakes”.
Washington is not satisfied with the agreement, saying that Syria’s offer to allow UN inspectors access to the attack site was “too late to be credible”.
“If the Syrian government had nothing to hide and wanted to prove to the world that it had not used chemical weapons in this incident, it would have ceased its attacks on the area and granted immediate access to the UN— five days ago,” a senior administration official said.
France also said on Sunday there can be “no doubt” that it’s the Assad regime, which is behind the alleged chemical weapons use near Damascus.
When asked about the Syrian government’s decision to grant the UN inspectors permission to inspect the sites of the suspected attacks, French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, replied that “this request was already made several days ago” and the location “has been bombed since.”
“From the moment the substance of the facts is established incontestably, there will necessarily be a strong response,” Fabius is cited as saying by AFP.
The French stance was echoed by the UK’s foreign secretary, William Hague, who said that the international community “has to be realistic now about what the UN team can achieve” in Syria.
“The fact is that much of the evidence could have been destroyed by that artillery bombardment. Other evidence could have degraded over the last few days and other evidence could have been tampered with,” Hague is cited as saying by Reuters. Continue reading