UN inspectors hit by sniper fire in Syria
Unidentified snipers opened fire on a convoy of UN experts investigating suspected chemical weapons attacks in Syria's capital, the UN has said
One car was shot at ‘multiple times’, forcing the convoy to turn back. Syrian state media blamed opposition ‘terrorists’ for the attack, though the claim could not be verified.
The UN team later resumed its mission, entering the western district of Muadhamiya to gather evidence, before returning to central Damascus.
Hundreds died in alleged attacks on last Wednesday in five districts near Damascus.
The US said there was little doubt that Syrian forces used chemical weapons in the attacks, which killed over 1,300 people.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad dismissed the accusation as ‘an insult to common sense’ and warned the US against military intervention.
“If someone is dreaming of making Syria a puppet of the West, then this will not happen,” he said.
The 20-member UN inspection team has been in Syria since 18 August to look into three earlier suspected chemical attacks. They were given permission on Sunday to examine the Damascus locations.
The experts intend to take soil, blood, urine and tissue samples for laboratory testing but they are unlikely to apportion blame for any of the attacks.
Shortly after setting out from their hotel in Damascus, the inspectors’ cars came under fire multiple times by unidentified snipers, according to a statement from the UN.
The team returned safely back to the government checkpoint before setting out again.
The convoy was deliberately targeted and it seemed someone was trying to intimidate the team, the UN Secretary General’s spokesman Farhan Haq said.