Snipers Attack U.N. Team Investigating Syria Chemical Strike

Someone would prefer the U.N. stay out: U.N. inspectors sent to investigate the alleged chemical-weapons attack that hit a Damascus suburb last week apparently came under sniper fire and were forced to turn back.

According to the U.N., an official vehicle carrying the team of inspectors came under deliberate fire by unidentified snipers, disabling the vehicle and forcing the team to turn around. They will attempt to visit the site again in a few hours, at which point the team will attempt to ascertain whether or not chemical weapons were used on hundreds of civilians, and if, as rebels claim, the forces of Syrian president Bashar al Assad were to blame.

If a U.N. report confirms that it was a chemical strike, it would help the building momentum for an international intervention of the kind that U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron is said to favor. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has said that the U.S. will only take action in "concert with the international community and within the framework of legal justification."

Russia, Assad's closest ally on the U.N. security council, continues to oppose intervention—maybe even in the case of proof of chemical-weapon use—and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said today that military action without U.N. approval would be a "grave violation of international law."