A vehicle used by U.S. chemical weapons investigators was shot at Monday by snipers, a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says (no injuries reported). The team was team of United Nations experts had been allowed to investigate the most recent (21 Aug 13) site of an alleged Syrian government use of chemical weapons. The team had been in-place for a week to investigate three sites of alleged chemical weapon attacks.
The US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Gen. Dempsey) expressed concerns that no single rebel group is capable yet of taking over and representing U.S. interests. Syria has an extensive air defense system and, although it is not up-to-date, any attack through its airspace would carry high risks. Military analysts suggest targets could be struck by cruise missiles from a safe distance. President Obama had the Pentagon present him with multiple options Saturday.
The U.S. concerns are shared by France, Germany, Israel, and Great Britain among others. France has raised the possibility of the use of force in Syria if it is proven that Assad’s regime used chemical weapons. Turkey said several red lines have been crossed and has called for new sanctions. Israel’s minister for intelligence and strategic affairs, said their “intelligence estimates” concluded that chemical weapons indeed were used.
The unrest in Syria started in March 2011 and has since expanded into full-blown a civil war. The U.N. estimates more than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far.