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UN orders its inspectors out of Syria in anticipation of strikes

Julian Borger and Paul Lewis
London Guardian [1]
August 29, 2013

UN weapons inspectors have been ordered to leave Syria early amid mounting anticipation of US-led military strikes.

As the five permanent members of the security council held a second emergency meeting on Syria in two days on Thursday evening, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, instructed the 20-strong inspection team in Damascus to leave on Saturday, a day ahead of schedule. Ban also announced that the team would report to him immediately on departure, raising the possibility that the UN could issue an interim report on the 21 August chemical attacks that left hundreds of people dead.

The inspectors had not been due to deliver their findings for a week at least, with the analysis of samples a painstaking task. The demand for a rushed early assessment reflects the fraught atmosphere at the UN triggered by US threats to launch punitive air strikes within days.

In Washington US intelligence officials were on Thursday seeking to persuade congressman of the evidence that the Syrian government was responsible for chemical weapons attacks, as the Obama administration resisted comparisons with the run-up to the Iraq war.

Full story here. [1]