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UN: Syria attack timing idea 'grotesque'

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PETER JAMES SPIELMANN | August 31, 2013 01:18 PM EST | AP

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UNITED NATIONS — The top U.N. spokesman says any notion that the departure of the U.N. chemical weapons inspection team from Syria opens a window for a U.S. attack is "grotesque."

Spokesman Martin Nesirky notes that about 1,000 international and U.N. staff remain in Syria, and the United Nations is just as concerned about their welfare as it is about its team of inspectors. He also says the Syrian population would be vulnerable to harm.

Nesirky spoke at a news conference Saturday after U.N. disarmament chief Angela Kane briefed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the investigation into the alleged chemical weapons strike outside Damascus.

Nesirky says Ban will be briefed further by the head of the UN chemical weapons team Sunday. The team is in Europe and will have to analyze the evidence in laboratories before making their report.