UN chemical experts leave Damascus hotel

Associated Press
The head of UN inspectors’ team, Professor Ake Sellstrom, second right, and Angela Kane, right, the representative on the United Nations for Disarmament Issues, watch as the UN inspectors’ team leaves the Four Seasons hotel in Damascus, Syria, August 28, 2013. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pleaded for a diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict, even as world powers appeared to be moving toward punitive military strikes against President Bashar Assad's regime for what the United States and its allies say was a deadly chemical weapons attack. Syria has denied it was behind the alleged attack. (AP Photo)
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DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — U.N. experts investigating purported poison gas attacks left their Damascus hotel Thursday, but anti-regime activists said the team's destination was not immediately known.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the team would be leaving Syria on Saturday.

The inspectors spent two days this week taking biological samples and interviewing survivors in the suburbs of Damascus where Syrian activists say hundreds were killed in the Aug. 21 attacks.

Associated Press photographers say the team left the hotel Thursday morning in six cars with U.N. markings.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday he has concluded the Syrian regime is behind the attack. It's not clear if the Western powers will wait for the U.N. experts' findings before launching a possible punitive military strike.

Speaking in Vienna Thursday, Ban asked for time for the inspection team to complete its investigation, including a scientific analysis of the samples after they leave Syria. All opinions should be heard before decisions are made on a possible response, he said.

The U.S. has signaled it would act even without backing from its allies or the U.N.

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