Aug. 21 - The White House has urged the UN to investigate a possible massive chemical attack in Syria and called on the Syrian government to allow a U.N. team already in the country ''unfettered access'' to the sites of the alleged attack. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION). STORY: The White House has expressed alarm about reports of a massive deadly chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces and called urgently for a United Nations investigation into the incident. Syria's opposition accused President Bashar al-Assad's loyalists of gassing many hundreds of people - as many as 1,300 according to one report - in what would, if confirmed, be the world's worst chemical weapons attack in decades. While the White House stopped short of providing confirmation of Wednesday's attack, saying it was working to gather additional information, it demanded that the Syrian government allow a UN team already in the country "immediate and unfettered access" to the location of the alleged attack near Damascus. "There is today, as we speak, on the ground in Syria, a United Nations team with a specialty in investigating the use of chemical weapons," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. "So let's give this team the opportunity to investigate what exactly occurred and get to the bottom of this so that we can hold accountable those who were responsible." Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoabi said the allegations were "illogical and fabricated." Assad's officials have said they would never use poison gas against Syrians, but the United States and European allies believe Assad's forces have used small amounts of sarin gas in attacks in the past. President Barack Obama has taken a cautious approach on Syria's 2-1/2-year-old civil war, showing little appetite for deeper U.S. intervention. However, confirmation of Wednesday's attack could increase pressure on the Obama administration.