Assad Is Counting on Russia Support in UN Chemical Weapons Probe

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he expects Russia to ensure the neutrality of a United Nations probe into the alleged use of chemical weapons by his army in the war against rebels.

Assad, in an interview with Russian newspaper Izvestia, said the result of any U.S. military attack on Syria “will meet the same fate that the U.S. has met since its war in Vietnam: failure,” according to a transcript carried by the state-run Sana news agency.

A UN team is preparing to begin an investigation into allegations of chemical arms use after some opposition groups said 1,300 people were killed in a Aug. 21 attack in a Damascus suburb. A senior U.S. official said yesterday the administration of President Barack Obama had “little doubt” that Assad’s forces used a chemical weapon in the attack. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said U.S. forces were ready to strike if ordered by the president.

“The results can be interpreted according to the whim of major powers, so what we’re waiting for after the investigation is the objectivity of the interpretation,” Assad said, according to Sana. “Of course we count on Russia to prevent any interpretation that aims to serve the objectives of U.S. and Western policies.”

Syria and the UN agreed yesterday to the inspection of the Ghouta area outside Damascus.

The agreement five days after the purported attack is too late because constant shelling of the area could have corrupted or destroyed evidence, the U.S. administration official said in an e-mailed statement. The statement was released on condition of anonymity because the person wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

Pressure is building on Obama to respond, with Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee, calling yesterday for a limited military response by the U.S. and its allies. The U.S., the U.K. and France are discussing options.

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