Early U.S. and European intelligence findings indicate that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime carried out a chemical strike near Damascus on Wednesday, probably with backing from senior leaders, Reuters reported.
Russia on Friday joined other nations calling for a U.N. team now in Syria to investigate the alleged assault that might have killed hundreds of people, the Associated Press reported.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has dispatched a top disarmament official to the Syrian capital to formally request access to the scene of the alleged attack, according to a Thursday release.
The claims “need to be investigated without delay,” his office said in a statement. Speaking on Friday, Ban said “it’s a matter of time when we will participate (in the Syrian incident),” the Xinhua News Agency reported. The U.N. chief was to meet on Friday with officials from the United Kingdom, and top envoys from the United States and Qatar also would participate in talks, British Foreign Minister William Hague said in comments reported by Reuters.
President Obama in an interview aired Friday told CNN that Washington officials “don’t expect cooperation” from officials in Bashar Assad’s government.”
Moscow, though, accused enemies of Bashar Assad’s government of refusing “to guarantee the safety and effective work of U.N. experts on [rebel] territory,” Reuters reported. The opposition in the country’s civil war “is directly preventing an objective investigation into the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria,” according to written comments released by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The Western-backed Syrian National Coalition later said it would “ensure the safety of the U.N. team,” the wire service reported separately.
“It is critical that those inspectors get there within 48 hours,” spokesman Khaled Saleh said.
More than 30 nations have called for the U.N. investigation to expand its on-the-ground probe — launched on Monday to review past chemical attack claims — to include the latest allegations, USA Today reported. Syrian rebels have attributed 800 to 1,700 deaths to Wednesday’s incident.
Independent analyses appeared to be coalescing around a view that the event involved sarin or another nerve agent, the London Guardian reported. Neighboring governments and Western powers are expected within days to obtain materials taken from the site of the alleged attack, according to the newspaper.
In his remarks to CNN, Obama said a chemical strike “starts getting to some core national interests that the United States has, both in terms of us making sure that weapons of mass destruction are not proliferating, as well as needing to protect our allies, our bases in the region.”
He added, though, that “if the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it [and] do we have the coalition to make it work.”
The need for critical U.S. choices on Syria has grown more urgent, Obama indicated in the CNN interview. The Defense Department as of Thursday was revising options for possible air attacks against Syrian armed forces facilities and other sites controlled by Assad, the Wall Street Journal reported.
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At the end of the debate, moderator Lester Holt asked Donald Trump if he stands by his statement that Hillary Clinton didn't have the look of a president. Trump responded by saying Holt misquoted him, instead saying that Clinton "doesn't have the stamina." Clinton responded by saying that when Trump visits 112 countries as secretary of state, he can talk to her about stamina.
Donald Trump, when pressed by Lester Holt on why he finally admitted that President Obama was born in America, repeated his widely debunked claim that it was started by Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton went point by point on how race can so often determine the treatment that people receive, mentioning recent shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte, calling for restored trust between communities and police, and demanding criminal justice reform. Trump responded by calling for law and order and touting his endorsements from police unions. He then said that “African Americans are living in hell,” saying they are just walking down the street and getting “shot ... being decimated by crime."
Just as Hillary Clinton was inviting debate viewers to visit her site for real-time fact checking, there appeared to be a problem with Donald Trump's own campaign website. For about a 15-minute period, a blank page or an error message appeared when we tried to load the Trump site.
Donald Trump has come out in the first segment of this debate raring to go. Trump has interrupted nearly every answer being given by Hillary Clinton, talking over her time and again. Clinton is sticking to her guns, smiling while Trump speaks and then calling on people to go to her website and see the fact checking being done.