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U.N. Experts Leave Syria As U.S. Considers Strike

Update At 12:40 p.m. ET:

A spokesman for the U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-moon says inspectors carried out a wide range of fact finding activity in Syria, but that it will take time to analyze the samples collected on the ground.

Speaking at the United Nations in New York, Martin Nesirky says results from tests would be transmitted to the secretary-general "as soon as the laboratory findings are available." However, he declined to give a timeline.

Asked whether the departure of the inspectors opened the door for possible U.S. military action, Nesirky called the suggestion "grotesque" and "an affront" to the work of U.N. workers on the ground in Syria.

Here's our original post:

Under the looming threat of a U.S. military strike, United Nations chemical weapons inspectors have left Syria for neighboring Lebanon.

The inspectors wrapped up a four-day mission to collect evidence of a suspected chemical attack against a rebel-held suburb outside Damascus.

The AP said one of its crews saw the U.N. team cross the border at Syria's Masnaa checkpoint in a 13-car convoy, which arrived at Beirut International Airport early this morning.

It could be two weeks before they report their conclusions, according to the BBC.

Their departure removes a political and practical roadblock to a U.S. military strikeagainst Syria, the BBC said. An attack while inspectors were still on the ground would be dangerous to inspectors and seem premature before their work was completed.

The Obama administration says that it is certain that the Syrian government launched the attack on Aug. 21, and that the action violated international norms and requires a military response.

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