Syria is indicating it’s willing to cooperate a more with the United Nations but as evidence — and an international consensus — builds that it used chemical weapons against civilians, killing by some accounts more a thousand, including hundreds of children, is it too little too late?
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 the government had gassed its own people.
The U.S. remarks appeared to signal that 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.
The comments follow forceful remarks from other Western powers, including Britain and France, which also believe President Bashar al-Assad’s government was behind a massive poison gas attack that killed many hundreds of people last week.
Foreign powers have been searching for a response since the killings in a Damascus suburb, which if confirmed would be the world’s worst chemical weapons attack in 25 years.
The United Nations said Damascus had agreed to a ceasefire while a U.N. team of experts inspect the site from Monday. Syria confirmed it had agreed to allow the inspections.
It’s clear from news reports that Syria will likely face some kind of consquences because of the killings. Countries are divided over what to do, and Syria’s decision seems as if it’s aimed at accentuating those divisions.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.