US rebuffs Syrian access to chemical site as “too late to be credible”

US seaborne Tomahawk cruise missile

US seaborne Tomahawk cruise missile

The US has little doubt the Syrian government used chemical weapons against civilians and any decision to open the site to UN inspectors comes “too late to be credible,” a senior US official said Sunday, Aug. 25.

The official made clear the Syrian government’s agreement to let United Nations inspectors visit the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack was inadequate.

“At this juncture, any belated decision by the regime to grant access to the UN team would be considered too late to be credible, including because the evidence available has been significantly corrupted as a result of the regime’s persistent shelling and other intentional actions over the last five days,” the official said.

“If the Syrian government had nothing to hide and wanted to prove to the world that it had not used chemical weapons in this incident, it would have ceased its attacks on the area and granted immediate access to the UN five days ago,” the senior Obama administration official said.

The White House appeared not to be deterred from military intervention by an effort by Damascus to ease tensions by allowing UN inspectors to finally visit the areas allegedly hit with chemical weapons.

Middle East tensions were further ratcheted up during the day by a warning from Tehran. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri, deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces said Sunday: “America knows the limitation of the red line of the Syrian front and any crossing of Syria’s red line will have severe consequences for the White House.”  Iranian and Syrian spokesmen have said that a US attack on Syria would prompt a Syrian missile attack on Israel in retaliation.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman also issued a statement late Sunday saying: “We again resolutely urge all those who are trying to force conclusions on the UN experts and who say that armed action against Syria is possible, to show common sense and avoid tragic mistakes.”

DEBKAfile reported early Sunday morning:

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