UN experts leave Damascus hotel at end of weapons probe

DAMASCUS - A team of UN inspectors left their Damascus hotel in a convoy of cars Saturday following the conclusion of their probe into the alleged use of chemical weapons by the regime.

The 13 inspectors, led by Ake Sellstrom, were seen loading their luggage into seven UN vehicles before setting off from their hotel , an AFP correspondent said.

The team have been investigating allegations of use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime against its own people.

The departure of the UN experts heightened expectations of a possible international military strike against the regime.

US President Barack Obama said Friday the United States was weighing "limited, narrow" action against Syria, insisting the world had a duty to act after hundreds of women and children were gassed to death.

Obama emphasised he had made no "final decision" on unleashing military strikes against the Assad regime, but gave his clearest indication yet that an attack was imminent.

French President Francois Hollande said a military strike on Syria could come by Wednesday and that Britain's surprise rejection of armed intervention would not affect his government's stand.

"France wants firm and proportionate action against the Damasacus regime," he said in an interview to Le Monde daily on Friday. The French parliament is due to meet on Wednesday for an emergency Syria session.

Washington said that 1,429 people, including 426 children, had died in a chemical attack launched by the regime of Bashar al-Assad last week.

On Friday Angela Kane, the UN disarmament envoy who had visited Syria with the UN experts, left Damascus by car which drove her to the border with Lebanon, a 45 minute journey from Damascus.

She is expected to brief UN secretary general Bank Ki-moon in New York later Saturday.