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Syria lets U.N. inspect gas attack site, Washington says too late

By Oliver Holmes

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria agreed on Sunday to let the United Nations inspect the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack, but a U.S. official said such an offer was “too late to be credible” and Washington was all but certain that the government of President Bashar al-Assad had gassed its own people.

The U.S. remarks appeared to signal a military response was more likely. A senior senator said he believed President Barack Obama would ask for authorization to use force when Congress returns from recess next month.

… Syria’s information minister said any U.S. military action would “create a ball of fire that will inflame the Middle East”.

He said Damascus had evidence that chemical weapons were used by rebels fighting to topple Assad, not by his government. That argument is given credence by Assad’s ally Russia, but dismissed by Western countries that believe the rebels have no access to poison gas or the big weapons needed to deliver it.

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