Britain has said it will submit a UN resolution condemning Syria for the alleged use of chemical weapons. Meanwhile, other western powers ready for a possible military intervention amid warnings from Iran.
A statement from Prime Minister David Cameron's office Wednesday said Britain would submit a UN Security Council measure condemning the Syrian government for an alleged chemical weapons attack that killed at least 350 people in a Damascus suburb last week.
The resolution would seek to authorize "necessary measures to protect civilians" in Syria, according to the statement.
Visiting the Netherlands, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the UN's team of chemical weapons inspectors needed four days to complete their probe into the alleged attack. Ban said the team spent a second day on Wednesday in the Damascus suburb.
"Let them (inspectors) conclude their work for four days," Ban said.
The Syrian opposition says the August 21 attack was carried out by President Bashar al-Assad's forces. Damascus has denied these claims and blames the rebels for the attack.
The alleged attack has sparked international outrage and prompted several western powers to call for action against Assad’s regime.
The United States and Great Britain have both said they believe there is "no doubt" that the Syrian government was behind the attacks and have threatened military strikes.
Brahimi also cautious
UN special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said any US military action would need to be approved by the UN Security Council.
"I think international law is clear on this. International law says that military action must be taken after a decision by the Security Council. That is what international law says," he told a press conference in Geneva.
There has been firm opposition from Russia and China, permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, to the claims that the Syrian government was behind the attacks. Without their support, the kind of UN mandate that legalized the 2011 NATO operation in Libya appears unlikely.
Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle welcomed the draft resolution and said, "We urge all members of the Security Council, in particular Russia, to seize this opportunity and contribute to a common stance by the global community against the use of chemical weapons of mass destruction in Syria."
Warnings against intervention
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that US intervention in Syria would be "a disaster for the region", Iran's ISNA state news agency reported.
"The intervention of America will be a disaster for the region. The region is like a gunpowder store and the future cannot be predicted," he was quoted as saying.
The Syrian regime warned through Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem Tuesday that it had the "means to defend ourselves," should foreign troops intervene in the country.
Meanwhile, UN inspectors resumed their investigation near the Syrian capital Damascus, where the alleged chemical attacks took place last week.
The team's convoy came under unidentified sniper fire when they tried to reach a field hospital on Monday.
hc/ipj (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)