LONDON - British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Sunday that any evidence of a chemical attack by the Syrian regime may have already been destroyed.
"The fact is that much of the evidence could have been destroyed by that artillery bombardment," he said, referring to reported continued attacks on the area east of Damascus where the chemical attack is believed to have taken place.
"Other evidence could have degraded over the last few days, and other evidence could have been tampered with," he added at a press conference held shortly after Damascus gave its green light to a mission by UN inspectors.
The experts are Monday to start investigating the site of the alleged attack as a sceptical Washington said Syria's acceptance had come too late.
Hague expressed concern that too much time had elapsed for the UN inspectors to gather enough concrete evidence.
"We have to be realistic now about what the UN team can achieve," he said.
However, he repeated his belief that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces were responsible for the alleged attack, claiming "there is a lot of evidence already and it all points in one direction."
"We are clear in the British government that it was the Assad regime that carried out this large-scale chemical attack," he said, citing "the eyewitness accounts (and) the fact this area was under bombardment by the regime forces at the time that the chemical attack took place."
The minister argued: "If the regime believed somebody else had carried out this attack then they would have given access to the UN inspectors several days ago."