As a United Nations team heads off to the alleged site of a chemical attack near Damascus, the West is considering its next move.
British foreign secretary William Hague has already said that a response could go ahead without the unanimous backing of the UN Security Council, which is still split over how to deal with Syrian ruler Bashar Al-Assad.
“We, the United States, many other countries including France, are clear that we can’t allow the idea in the 21st century that chemical weapons can be used with impunity,” he said in a radio interview this morning.
A vehicle belonging to the inspections team, however, was hit by sniper fire earlier this morning, according to the UN’s official Twitter feed, although no one was injured in the attack.
— UN Spokesperson (@UN_Spokesperson) August 26, 2013
The French president, Francois Hollande, also backs intervention, telling a newspaper that “we cannot not react to the use of chemical weapons.”
Turkey has also said that it would join the international coalition against the Syrian regime, and the New York Times is reporting that President Obama is considering some form of military strike.
Only China remained cautious, with its foreign minister suggesting in a statement that it would only intervene in the case of a green light from the UN Security Council.
Meanwhile, President Al-Assad has been fighting back. In an interview with a Russian publication, he said that the U.S. would fail if it intervened in his country’s civil war. “Failure awaits the United States as in all previous wars it has unleashed, starting with Vietnam and up to the present day,” he told Izvestia newspaper, a pro-Kremlin publication.
Over 300 people, including dozens of children, were killed in the attack, near Damascus, last week. As the investigators prepare to go in, Hans Blix, a former UN inspector who led an investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Iraq, said that the team had a “hard task” ahead of it.
[Image: Flickr user philosophygeek]