In this citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrian rebels escorted the UN investigation team, in Damascus countryside of Zamalka, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. U.N. chemical weapons experts headed to a Damascus suburb on Wednesday for a new tour of areas struck by a purported poison gas attack, activists said, as Western powers laid the groundwork for a possible punitive strike and the U.N. chief pleaded for more time for diplomacy. (AP Photo/United media office of Arbeen)
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — U.N. experts investigating purported poison gas attacks left their Damascus hotel Thursday, but anti-regime activists said the team's destination was not immediately known.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the team would be leaving Syria on Saturday.
The inspectors spent two days this week taking biological samples and interviewing survivors in the suburbs of Damascus where Syrian activists say hundreds were killed in the Aug. 21 attacks.
Associated Press photographers say the team left the hotel Thursday morning in six cars with U.N. markings.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday he has concluded the Syrian regime is behind the attack. It's not clear if the Western powers will wait for the U.N. experts' findings before launching a possible punitive military strike.
Speaking in Vienna Thursday, Ban asked for time for the inspection team to complete its investigation, including a scientific analysis of the samples after they leave Syria. All opinions should be heard before decisions are made on a possible response, he said.
The U.S. has signaled it would act even without backing from its allies or the U.N.
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