DAMASCUS, Syria — Syrian President Bashar Assad said Thursday that his country "will defend itself against any aggression," signaling defiance to mounting Western warnings of a possible punitive strike over a suspected poison gas attack blamed on his regime.
U.N. chemical weapons inspectors toured stricken rebel-held areas near the Syrian capital, Damascus, for a third day Thursday.
Amateur video posted online showed U.N. inspectors wearing gas masks walking through a damaged building. One inspector scooped pulverized debris from the ground, placed it in a glass container and wrapped the container in a plastic bag.
The inspectors' departure from Syria on Saturday could clear the path for possible military action against the Assad regime.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday urged Western powers to hold off on any decisions until his experts can present their findings to U.N. member states and the Security Council.
The suspected chemical weapons attacks took place Aug. 21 in suburbs east and west of Damascus. The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders has said the strikes killed 355 people.