U.N. Inspectors Fired On in Syria, as Cameron Pushes Obama to Act

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An U.N. inspection team in Syria was fired upon by snipers today as they attempted to visit the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Damascus. No one was injured in the assault, but the inspectors were forced to turn back and said they will try again after replacing their vehicle. It appears to be the second effort made to prevent the inspectors from reaching the site since the Syrian government reluctantly granted them permission to conduct their investigation. Earlier in the day a mortar attack was launched just blocks away from the Damascus hotel where the inspectors are staying, despite a proposed ceasefire between the rebels and the regime meant to allow inspectors to do their work.

The Syrian government blamed both attacks on "terrorists," who they say are behind the original chemical attacks, although almost no one is believing that line of defense any more. The international community seems more united than it has ever been behind the consensus that Bashar al-Assad's government is the one using chemical weapons on the Syrian people. And for the first time since the war began more than two years ago, the West seems serious about taking action. While The Guardian reported over the weekend that both President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron feel some response is needed, The Times of London reported on Monday that Cameron is the one putting pressure on Obama to launch a missile strike — and to do it soon. There were numerous reports in the last several days that American military commanders are reading their forces for a strike, should the President decide to order one.

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The sentiment appears to be so strong among Western allies that they are even hoping to build a consensus that would allow them to act even without U.N. approval. Turkey's foreign minister has already said his country (which is no friend to Syria) would gladly join an anti-Syrian coalition, even if the Security Council fails to act. Russia continues to defend the Assad regime, but with France, Britain, and (possibly) the United States amassing their evidence, they might just create enough will to ignore any objections.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.