National Security Brief: U.N. Team Takes Samples From Alleged Poison Gas Attack Site In Syria




A team of United Nations experts on Monday took samples from victims of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria just outside of Damascus, as the Obama administration officials and U.S. allies consider a possible military response.

A senior White House official in a statement on Sunday said there is “very little doubt” President Bashar al-Assad’s forces launched the poison gas attack and that his agreement to allow the U.N. team into the site to investigate was “too late to be credible.”

While the U.N. team eventually arrived at the site on Monday, the convoy came under fire “multiple times by unidentified snipers,” the United Nations said.

“We are in the Rawda mosque and they are meeting with the wounded. Our medics and the inspectors are talking to the patients and taking samples from the victims now,” a Syrian doctor told Reuters.

American and British forces are mobilizing for a potential strike in Syria while top officials from both countries are gathering facts and weighing options.

“The United States is looking at all options regarding the situation in Syria. We’re working with our allies and the international community,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Monday. “We are analyzing the intelligence. And we will get the facts. And if there is any action taken, it will be in concert with the international community and within the framework of legal justification.”

In other news:

  • The Associated Press reports: A Palestinian official says planned peace talks with the Israelis scheduled for Monday have been called off following a deadly clash in the West Bank. Israeli soldiers killed three Palestinians Monday during clashes outside Jerusalem. The Palestinian official says the Palestinians decided to postpone Monday’s meeting to protest the killings. He says the Palestinians are also upset about an Israeli announcement on Sunday pushing forward with new settlement construction in east Jerusalem.
  • The New York Times reports: The Egyptian military has enlisted Muslim scholars in a propaganda campaign to persuade soldiers and policemen that they have a religious duty to obey orders to use deadly force against supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi.
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