Syria lets UN inspect gas attack site

Dead pigeons lie on the ground after an alleged chemical weapons attack. PHOTO: REUTERS

Dead pigeons lie on the ground after an alleged chemical weapons attack. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIRUT: Syria agreed to let the United Nations inspect the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack, as Russia warned the United States that any unilateral military action in the country would have a devastating impact on the Middle East.

The UN on Sunday said Damascus had agreed to a ceasefire and a team of UN experts were at the site for inspections which will begin on Monday. Syria confirmed it had agreed to allow the inspections.

But there were increasing signs that the US and its allies were considering taking action.

A senior US official said there was little doubt the Syrian government had used a chemical weapon against civilians on Wednesday.

“At this juncture, any belated decision by the regime to grant access to the UN team would be considered too late to be credible,” the official said.

Russia, meanwhile, warned the US against repeating ‘past mistakes’.

“We once again decisively urge (the US) not to repeat the mistakes of the past and not to allow actions that go against international law,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

“Any unilateral military action bypassing the UN will … lead to further escalation [in Syria] and affect the already explosive situation in the Middle East.”

Russia, which has suggested that Syrian rebels may have carried out the attack, also said on Sunday that assigning blame too soon over the alleged poison gas strike would be a ‘tragic mistake’.

On the other hand, the Syrian information minister warned the US that any military action would “create a ball of fire that will inflame the Middle East.”

Source: Reuters

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