Western powers consider military strikes on Syria, jury to decide Fort Hood shooter’s fate, and a German paper reports more U.S. spying. Today is Monday, August 26, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.
United Nations (U.N.) vehicles transport a team of U.N. chemical weapons experts to the scene of a reported poison gas attack outside the Syrian capital last week, in Damascus, August 26, 2013. REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri
U.N. team on the scene of reported chemical attack – five days later. Chemical weapons inspectors drove through sniper fire on Monday to collect samples from victims of last week’s apparent poison gas attack in Syria. The team on Sunday received permission from the Syrian government to enter the site, but the U.S. said evidence was likely to have been destroyed already by shelling. However, the U.N.’s findings could be pivotal in determining whether international forces take military action against Syria:
With Western powers considering military strikes, despite vocal opposition from Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies, any evidence to support rebel claims that government forces fired gas-laden rockets five days ago that killed hundreds of civilians will be a key element in arguments for peace or war… With speculation mounting that NATO powers might fire cruise missiles to satisfy calls for action to protect Syrian civilians, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said any operation would be coordinated with allies… “The United States is looking at all options regarding the situation in Syria. We’re working with our allies and the international community,” Hagel told a news conference. “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.”
A diplomat from the U.S. State Department is scheduled to meet with a Russian delegation in The Hague next week to discuss plans for a Syria peace conference that was proposed months ago. Russia has backed Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s claim that his government did not carry out gas attacks, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today warned Western powers against using military force, adding that Russia has “no plans to go to war with anyone.” A Reuters/Ipsos poll also found 60 percent of U.S. citizens opposed to U.S. intervention in Syria.