'Every hour counts' for UN chemical arms probe

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon said Monday there was no time to waste as UN experts prepared to investigate a suspected Syrian chemical attack, with Washington suggesting the probe was already too late.

"Every hour counts. We cannot afford any more delays," Ban told reporters in Seoul, hours before a UN team was due to inspect the site of last week's alleged chemical attack near Damascus.

The Syrian authorities green-lighted the inspection on Sunday, but US officials said it was too little, too late, arguing that persistent shelling of the site in recent days had "corrupted" the site.

"The world is watching Syria," Ban said, stressing once again that the UN experts must be allowed "unfettered access" to the site and to work "unimpeded".

"We cannot allow impunity in what appears to be a grave crime against humanity," said Ban who was wrapping up a five-day visit to his homeland, South Korea.