Five days after the event, a United Nations team of experts Monday, Aug. 26, start scouring a site in eastern Damascus for shrapnel left over from the poison gas shells or rockets fired by the Syrian army’s 155th Brigade last Wednesday.
Given the low prospects of finding evidence at this late date, DEBKAfile’s sources report that the UN Secretariat and the White House in Washington agreed Sunday night that the only chance of the chemical weapons experts finding evidence of their use was to examine one of the targeted sites or injured victims. The Assad regime has only offered to open one site to the UN team, not grant them access to the approximately 2,000 victims under treatment at the three hospitals. Therefore, the inspectors’ best bet was to go for shell shrapnel first.
Even after the alleged Syrian army’s exhaustive cleanup operation after its poison chemical attack, the UN experts still hope to turn up overlooked fragments, however microscopic.
The US and UN also agreed that the experts would submit their initial findings as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday morning, Aug. 28. The Obama administration made clear that it was not prepared to hang around and wait for the results of more extensive tests. The assumption in Washington is that the initial UN findings would suffice as the starting signal for the US and its allies, Britain, France, Canada, Turkey, and Germany, to go forward and launch planned targeted strikes on Syria.
Notwithstanding the official statements coming out of Washington that President Barack Obama has still not decided on his military options against Syria’s chemical attack, DEBKAfile’s sources confirm that limited, targeted Western military action is scheduled for the coming week.