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Syria under pressure to allow chemical weapon -

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ELIZABETH JACKSON: The United States calls it a grave concern. Britain believes it was a gas attack launched by the state. Even Russia thinks the UN needs to investigate.

Everyone, except the Syrian government it seems, wants inspectors to check the location of what Syrian rebels say was a deadly chemical attack that killed more than 1,000 people - that killed hundreds of people rather, last Wednesday.

Unverified footage of the incident shows civilians, many of them children, dead or suffering from what appear to be horrific symptoms.

Here's our Europe correspondent Philip Williams.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: Very little unites the Russians and Americans these days, but after a call from US secretary of state, John Kerry, to his Russian counterpart there was a surprising agreement: the UN weapons inspectors already in Damascus should be allowed to drive the 20 minutes or so from their hotel to the suburbs where something terrible clearly happened.

Britain's foreign secretary, William Hague, believes the Syrian government did use chemical weapons on its own people but says clear proof is vital.

WILLIAM HAGUE: I know that some people in the world would like to say this is some kind of conspiracy brought about by the opposition in Syria. I think the chances of that are vanishingly small, and so we do believe that this is a chemical attack by the Assad regime on a large scale.

But we would like the United Nations to be able to assess that, so that for those who don't believe that, for those who doubt that, the evidence can be gathered.

But that is certainly our opinion.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: More harrowing pictures have emerged, many too graphic to broadcast.

Eyewitnesses spoke of a slaughter as family members dropped to the ground.

EYEWITNESS 1 (translation): My father, mother, all my sisters and brothers, plus at least 50 neighbours, collapsed on the floor. I managed to bring my little sisters and two other girls to this field hospital, but nothing is left in Zamalka.

EYEWITNESS 2 (translation): We even saw cars hitting walls because the drivers lost consciousness as they tried to transport the victims for treatment.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: Yesterday the French foreign minister said if there was clear proof of chemical weapons atrocities, then it may be time for force, but he didn't elaborate.

And now US president Obama has added his call for a rapid investigation by the UN inspectors, although he didn't expect Syrian authorities would allow it.

BARACK OBAMA: What I do believe is that although the situation in Syria is very difficult and the notion that the US can somehow solve what is a sectarian, complex problem inside of Syria sometimes is overstated.

INTERVIEWER: But delay can be deadly, right Mr president?

BARACK OBAMA: There is no doubt that when you start seeing chemical weapons used on a large scale - and again, we're still gathering information about this particular event - but it is very troublesome.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: What the president isn't saying is what he will do about it if the accusations prove true. He's made it clear he doesn't want American troops involved in a bloody sectarian war, so what lies beyond his famous 'red line' on Syria remains a mystery.

And every day more Syrians die. Thousands stream into neighbouring countries seeking refuge from a conflict that appears to have no end.

This is Philip Williams reporting for Saturday AM.