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Syria Says UN Site Visit Postponed Until Wednesday

Source: VOA

Syria's foreign minister says United Nations investigators will not return Tuesday to the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack, because of a dispute over security with rebels. Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told a news conference the mission's second day of on-site inspections was postponed to Wednesday.

The U.N. team began its probe Monday in a suburb of Damascus, including taking blood samples from victims of the attack last week that activists and rebels blamed on Syrian forces.  The Syrian government has denied using chemical weapons.

Moualem also warned against any outside military intervention, saying possible U.S. airstrikes would serve the interests of Israel and al-Qaida.  He says Syria will defend itself against any military strike.

Officials from the United States, Britain, France and Turkey say they are weighing potential options in response to the chemical weapons allegations against Syria..

Allies warn against intervention

Russia and Iran are warning of the drastic consequences for the region that would come with an outside military attack on Syria.

The foreign ministries from each country made the statements Tuesday, a after officials from the United States, Britain, France and Turkey discussed the possibility of taking action in response to the chemical weapons allegations against Syria.

Russia has dismissed the allegations that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, saying the United States and other Western nations do not have proof of such an attack.  A White House spokesman said Monday there is "very little doubt" Syrian forces used chemical weapons.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich cautioned against any action that bypasses the U.N. Security Council, and urged the United States and the entire international community to act within the U.N. charter.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said any action will be taken "in concert with the international community" and within the law.  

President Barack Obama is evaluating potential options, but has not decided on any response.  He said last year that chemical weapons use in Syria would cross a "red line."

Some U.S. lawmakers, including Mr. Obama's opponent in the 2008 presidential election, Senator John McCain, have called for limited strikes against Syrian military targets.

Britain on Tuesday said its armed forces are drawing up contingency plans for military action but that no decision has been made about what response may be taken.

US postpones talks

Meanwhile, the United States has postponed a meeting with Russian officials scheduled for later this week to discuss the situation in Syria.

The talks Wednesday in the Hague were due to be the latest in the U.S.-Russian bid to find a political solution to the crisis.  

A senior State Department official said late Monday the delay is in light of the "ongoing consultations" on how to respond to the reports of chemical weapons use in Syria.

Russian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Gennady Gatilov said Russia regrets the U.S. decision.

The U.S.-Russian effort to bring together the Syrian government and the opposition for peace talks has yet to result in negotiations.  The State Department official says the U.S. remains committed to the process and will reschedule the planned talks with Russia.

... Payvand News - 08/27/13 ... --

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