The team of U.N. inspectors tasked with investigating last week's reports of a massive gas attack in Syria are on the ground in the suburbs of Damascus today but have run into trouble in the form of what the United Nations is describing as sniper fire. None of the inspectors, who left their hotel this morning wearing body armor, were injured, although the attack was enough to turn their convoy around. The Washington Post:
The first vehicle of the Chemical Weapons Investigation Team was in a buffer zone between government and rebel positions when it was “deliberately shot at multiple times by unidentified snipers,” the U.N. statement said. No one was hurt. Because the car was no longer serviceable, the team returned to government-held territory.
The United Nations did not blame the sniper fire on either the government or the rebels, instead urging “all sides . . . to extend their cooperation so that the team can safely carry out their important work.”
As you'd expect, both sides pointed their fingers at the other, with the Assad regime's state-run media blaming the attack on "armed terrorist groups" (a term they routinely use for opposition forces) and the rebels saying the shots came from loyalist soldiers and militiamen. In any event, the U.N. says the team will give things another go later today.
Update, 10:45 a.m.: After being turned back the first time, the U.N. convoy has now reached the Damascus suburb where hundreds of people were killed last week. The Washington Post reports that video live-streamed from a field hospital there showed members of the team, dressed in blue helmets and body armor, examining patients and talking to doctors.
TODAY IN SLATE
Forget Oculus Rift
This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.
The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals
Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band
Can it be again?
Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again
I’m 25. I Have $250.03.
My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
- NSA Is Letting its Chief Technical Officer Work 20 Hours a Week for a Private Company
- After 13 Years of U.S. Occupation, Afghanistan Opium Production Is at an All-Time High
- The Pennsylvania Fugitive Sniper Is Still at Large After 39 Days
- Oscar Pistorius Sentenced to Five Years, May Only Serve Ten Months