Syria's foreign ministry announced Sunday a deal with the U.N. to allow a team of inspectors to investigate the site of last week's alleged chemical weapons attack, but U.S. officials are already certain of what they will find -- or perhaps what's been hidden. Syrian state television broadcast a statement announcing a deal has been struck between Bashar al-Assad's regime and the U.N. to allow weapons inspectors to access the site of the August 21 alleged chemical weapons attack that reportedly killed over 300 people and injured thousands more. Per NBC's Richard Engel, the U.N. inspectors will have full access to the site starting on Monday, August 26, to begin a fact-finding mission.
The administration said made their feelings known after the U.N. deal was announced:
From @margbrennan: Sr Admin Official says any deal by Syria to grant UN access to suspected chem weapons site now "too late to be credible."— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) August 25, 2013
Sr US official: At this juncture, any belated decision by the regime to grant access to UN team would be too late to be credible. #syria— Richard Engel (@RichardEngel) August 25, 2013
The administration doesn't seem confident the U.N. inspectors will find anything credible. Just before the announcement was made, the U.S. had already concluded that the regime was behind the deadly attacks. A senior U.S. official leaked to reporters there is "very little doubt" among the U.S. intelligence community that a chemical weapon was used by the regime, based on "the reported number of victims, reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured, and witness accounts."
But the U.N. will have their day, and that is at least a small step forward. That they were granted access to the site so quickly surprised some. How this will effect the administration's continuing debate over taking military action remains unclear.