Global chemical weapons inspectors reach Syrian town

Oscar PerryApr 21, 2018

"Not even a day passed after the missile strikes when their organizers started putting forward odd and political initiatives", Nebenzia said. According to Syrian state media, the country's air defenses had responded to a missile attack over the western city of Homs.

"We are very much aware of the delay that the regime imposed on that delegation but we are also very much aware of how they have operated in the past and seal what they have done using chemical weapons", Mattis said before the start of a meeting with his counterpart from Qatar.

France said on Tuesday it was very likely that evidence was disappearing from the location of a suspected poison gas attack in Syria and it called for worldwide inspectors be given full and quick access to the site.

"As of today, Russian Federation and Syria still refuse to give inspectors access to the site of the attack", the French foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Syrian government and Russian sympathizers have denied allegations that a chemical attack took place, with the latter even accusing Britain of staging the gas attack.

Douma was the last town held by rebels in the eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus, until they surrendered the day after the alleged gas attack. While he declared success, the Pentagon said the pummeling of three chemical-related facilities left enough others intact to enable the Assad government to use banned weapons against civilians if it chooses.

The United Nation vehicle carrying the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inspectors is seen in Damascus, Syria April 17, 2018.

Uzumcu told an emergency meeting of the organization in The Hague that Russian and Syrian officials have informed the OPCW team that there were "still pending security issues to be worked out before any deployment could take place".

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OPCW director general Ahmet Uzumcu said his nine-strong, all-volunteer team had reached Damascus, but so far "the team has not yet deployed to Douma".

Instead, officials have offered up 22 people as witnesses for OPCW to interview.

Following weekend missile strikes on Syria by the US, France and Britain, Russia traded accusations with Western nations on Monday, dismissing as "a blatant lie" accusations that Moscow was hindering the investigation in Douma. But it said no missiles landed inside the bases.

The reports did not say who carried out the pre-dawn strikes, which were reported by Syrian state TV and the government-run Syrian Central Media.

It was immediately unknown who carried out the attack, with Pentagon spokeswoman Heather Babb saying, "There are no US or coalition operations in that area".

The Kremlin said on Tuesday in a read-out of the phone call between Putin and Merkel that the prospect for peace talks for Syria were damaged by the airstrikes, which were carried out in retaliation for the reported poison gas attack on a rebel-controlled suburb of Damascus. Israel did not confirm or deny it.

Meanwhile, the United States and France say they have evidence that poison gas was used in Douma, east of Damascus, killing dozens of people, and that President Bashar Assad's military was behind it, but they have made none of that evidence public.

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