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Sun Aug 25, 2013, 10:54 AM

U.S. Rebuffs Syrian Decision to Allow Inspection [View all]

Source: Wall Street Journal


DAMASCUS, Syria—Syria said Sunday it would allow United Nations inspectors currently present in Damascus immediate access to areas around the capital where the opposition accused the regime of using chemical weapons against fighters and civilians five days ago.

But the U.S. rebuffed Syria's decision, saying the offer came 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 U.N.— five days ago," a senior administration official said.

"At this juncture, the belated decision by the regime to grant access to the U.N. team is too late to be credible, including because the evidence available has been significantly corrupted as a result of the regime's persistent shelling and other intentional actions over the last five days," the official added.

Earlier, the U.N. said its inspection team was preparing to start its fact-finding mission on Monday after a presenter on Syrian state television, reading a statement attributed to an unnamed official at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said agreement was reached following a meeting between Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and Angela Kane, the U.N. disarmament chief, who arrived in Damascus on Saturday.

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323407104579034633663263254.html



Also very relevant:

U.N. Slowing Its Own Chemical Weapons Investigation In Syria
Posted By Colum Lynch, Noah Shachtman Friday, August 23, 2013 - 1:45 PM

The world's governments are demanding that Syria immediately let United Nations inspectors onto the scene of alleged chemical attacks that killed as many as 1,800. But even if Bashar al-Assad's regime gave the inspectors permission to visit the disputed battlefields right now, they still couldn't leave. The U.N. is blocking its own inspectors, at least for the moment.

Kevin Kennedy, a retired U.S. Marine colonel who heads the U.N. Department of Safety and Security, told a small group of reporters at U.N. headquarters on Friday that he hasn't given the inspection team a green light to visit the site of the supposed attacks. His office is still carrying out a security assessment to see if it is safe enough to go.

...

Meanwhile, his inspectors wait -- as the world tries to figure out why either side in Syria's awful civil war would've launched a chemical attack with U.N. inspectors so close by. (Russia is hinting at rebel responsibility for the attack, while the U.S. and its allies are blaming Assad's forces.) "

...

http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/08/23/un_blocking_its_own_chemical_weapons_investigation_into_syria

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