Syria Agrees to U.N. Probe of Chemical Attacks

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -

Top Lawmakers Call for Military Response

Syria reached an agreement with the United Nations on Sunday to allow a U.N. team of experts to visit the site of alleged chemical weapons’ attacks last week outside Damascus, state media said.

In a statement read on state media, the presenter said the Syrian government and the U.N. are working to set the date and time of the visit to the agreed upon locations near the capital purportedly hit by chemical agents on Aug. 22. The alleged chemical attack that activists say killed hundreds of civilians in rebel-held areas around Damascus took place on Wednesday, Aug. 21.

The Associated Press asked the Foreign Ministry about the discrepancy in the dates. The ministry replied that the statement was correct.

Syrian media said the deal was struck during a meeting between Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and U.N. disarmament chief Angela Kane.

The U.S., Britain, France and Russia have called on both the Syrian government and the rebels trying to overthrow President Bashar Assad’s regime to cooperate with the U.N. and facilitate an investigation into the purported use of chemical arms last week in the suburbs of Damascus.

Confirming whether chemical weapons were indeed used last week carries enormous stakes, and could play a huge role in determining the future course of the conflict. The purported use of toxic gas on the rebel-held suburbs on Wednesday has renewed debate about the possible use of outside force in Syria’s civil war.

France has said that if an independent investigation confirms that chemical weapons were indeed employed, then military force could be used in Syria.

Meanwhile, in a Sunday Fox News broadcast, two top U.S. lawmakers are calling for an immediate military response to Syria’s suspected chemical weapons attack.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker is calling for the U.S. to respond in a “surgical and proportional way, something that gets their attention.” The Tennessee lawmaker says such a response should not involve U.S. troops on the ground, however.

Democrat Rep. Eliot Engel of New York says the U.S. must respond “quickly,” together with NATO allies, possibly using cruise missile strikes, as the U.S. and NATO did in Libya.

A senior administration official said Sunday there is “very little doubt” a chemical weapon was used, but added the president had not yet decided how to respond.