A team of UN experts is due to begin investigating allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria within hours.
The investigation is going ahead after Syria reached an agreement with the UN to allow an inspection into the site of a chemical attack that was carried out on August 21 near the capital Damascus. The deal was struck during a meeting between Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and UN High Representative for Disarmament Angela Kane in Damascus on Sunday. The US has reportedly said Syria’s permit for the UN inspection is too late to be credible. A senior American official has said the access should have been granted immediately after the attack. The militants operating inside Syria and the foreign - backed Syrian opposition claim that hundreds of people died in the chemical attack allegedly carried out by Syrian forces against militant strongholds in the suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar. However, the Syrian government categorically rejects the baseless claims. The Syrian government announced later that the chemical attack had actually been carried out by the militants themselves as a false - flag operation. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on August 23 that the Pentagon was positioning military forces as part of “contingency options” provided to US President Barack Obama regarding Syria. Hagel’s comments have been interpreted as a tacit suggestion that the US may be preparing for a military strike on Syria. The US defense secretary repeated similar remarks on Sunday during a visit to Malaysia. Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al - Assad said in an interview with the Russian newspaperIzvestia that any military intervention by the US would end in “failure.”