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A U.N. team, that is scheduled to investigate an alleged chemical attack that killed hundreds last week in a Damascus suburb, leaves their hotel in a convoy, in Damascus, Syria, Monday, Aug. 26, 2013. An Associated Press photographer saw the U.N. members, wearing body armor, leaving in seven SUVs. It was not clear if the team headed to the suburb where the alleged attack occurred. (AP Photo)

Interactive Special: Crisis In Syria



(AP) Snipers opened fire Monday at a U.N. vehicle carrying a team investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in Damascus, a U.N. spokesman said. The Syrian government accused the rebels of firing at the team, while a rebel representative said a pro-government militia was behind the attack.

Activists said the team later arrived in Moadamiyeh, a western suburb of the capital and one of the areas where last week's attack allegedly occurred. They said the team was meeting with doctors and victims at a makeshift hospital.

The United States has said that there is little doubt that President Bashar Assad's regime was responsible for the attack on Aug. 21 in the capital's suburbs. Activists say the action killed hundreds; the group Doctors Without Borders put the death toll at 355 people.

Monday's shooting came as support for an international military response was mounting if it is confirmed that Assad's troops used chemical weapons.


AP PhotoRussia: No proof Syria govt behind chemical strike

Western nations that are calling for military action against Syria have no proof the Syrian government is behind the alleged chemical weapons attack, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (pictured L)  said Monday.

France, Britain, Israel and some U.S. congressmen have said military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime should be an option if it has used such weapons. A U.N. team is on the ground investigating the Aug. 21 attack that left hundreds dead.

Lavrov said in a news conference that the countries calling for action have assumed the role of "both investigators and the U.N. Security Council" in probing the incident.

"They cannot produce evidence, but keep on saying that the `red line' has been crossed and they cannot wait any longer," he said.

Lavrov likened the situation in Syria to the run-up before the 2003 military operation in Iraq. He warned against military intervention in Syria, saying "the use of force without a sanction of the U.N. Security Council is a crude violation of the international law."

Russia's foreign policy chief also blamed the Syrian opposition for manipulating reports of the attack in order to derail a peace conference on Syria. Lavrov said Russian and U.S. experts were days away from meeting up to arrange a peace conference in Geneva on Syria.

"This hysteria will definitely work against this meeting," he said.



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Topics : PoliticsWar_Conflict
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Locations : DamascusGeneva
People : Bashar AssadSergei Lavrov
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