UN experts looking into claims that Syria has deployed chemical weapons against its own people have been forced to abandon their investigation after they were shot at by snipers near Damascus.
UN experts were ‘deliberately’ targeted as they travelled in convoy to the site of the alleded atrocities in Syria. One car was damaged but no injuries was reported.
The inspectors were travelling to the site of the attack in a suburb of Damascus after the regime – which blames any chemical weapon use on opposition forces – gave its permission almost a week after the incident.
Despite a temporary ceasefire being agreed, their first vehicle was “deliberately shot at multiple times by unidentified snipers in the buffer zone area” , a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.
“As the car was no longer serviceable, the team returned safely back to the government checkpoint. The team will return to the area after replacing the vehicle,” he added.
The UN appealed for co-operation from both sides to allow the team access to the site.
It comes as William Hague today said that Britain faces a choice between military strikes against Syria or allowing tyrants around the world to use chemical weapons “with impunity.”
The Foreign Secretary refused to rule out bombing Assad regime targets within days as he warned that diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis had “failed”.
He denied any difference in approach between Downing Street and the White House, insisting that Britain, America and France were united in their determination to act.
However, Mr Hague risked angering MPs by suggesting that it may not be necessary to recall Parliament prior to launching military action.
His comments came as the crisis deepened in the aftermath of what is believed to have been a chemical gas attack on a suburb of Damascus last Wednesday.
Britain and the United States believe it is all but certain that forces loyal to the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, carried out the atrocity, which is reported to have killed at least 355 people and wounded 3,600 others.
As Britain and the US finalised preparations for a possible cruise missile strike on Syrian targets, which could begin within days, President Assad warned in a Russian newspaper that military action against his forces would not succeed.
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