Chemical weapons attack 'could easily happen' in US, Nikki Haley warns

Lester Mason
April 16, 2018

The White House on Monday said it was weighing fresh Russian Federation sanctions for Moscow's role supporting Syria's chemical weapons program, but officials cautioned that no decision has yet been taken.

The US, Britain and France launched a series of air strikes against Syrian government targets in the early hours of Saturday in retaliation for the alleged gas attack.

Inspectors have not yet been granted access to sites in Douma, the British delegation to the OPCW said Monday, citing the agency's director general.

But the British delegation to the OPCW, citing the agency's director general, said Russian Federation and the Syrian regime had not yet allowed inspectors access to the sites in Douma.

The UK's representative at the OPCW, Peter Wilson, said: "It is imperative that the Syrian Arab Republic and the Russian Federation offer the OPCW fact finding mission team their full co-operation and assistance to carry out their hard task".

"Unfettered access (is) essential", the statement said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied that Moscow had interfered with any evidence.

Meanwhile, Mr Lavrov denied Russian Federation had "tampered" with the site of the attack and insisted there was no proof that chemical weapons had been used.

The French president gave a wide-ranging TV interview on Sunday night saying he had persuaded US President Donald Trump not to pull troops out of Syria and instead commit "for the long term".

A boy walks along a damaged street at the city of Douma in Damascus, Syria on April 16.

While insisting the action taken early Saturday morning in Syria was "a very strong attack on the chemical weapons program", Haley hit back on more hawkish critics who argue the USA didn't go far enough because it did not change the balance of power in the long-running Syrian civil war.

"The time has come for all members of this executive council to take a stand", Wilson said, adding "too many duck the responsibility that comes with being a member of this council".

In the aftermath, the remnants of a rebel army evacuated, handing Assad one of the biggest victories in a war that has killed about half a million people and laid waste to whole cities.

"Russian sanctions will be coming down, [Treasury] Secretary Mnuchin will be announcing those on Monday if he hasn't already, and they will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons use", Ms Haley said on the CBS programme Face the Nation on Sunday.

While Haley's comments made sanctions seem imminent, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday that "we are considering additional sanctions and a decision will be made in the near future".

Nebenzia responded saying the environment is "not very conducive for any rapprochement" and "the political and unsafe military situation we are in now" must be sorted out first.

The 28 ministers endorsed the missile strikes and considered steps to deepen Assad's isolation.

"I think they're feeling that".

The U.S., United Kingdom and France said they launched airstrikes against Syrian chemical sites after obtaining evidence that a chemical weapon was used by President Bashar Assad's government.

"They are hard for us, but will do more damage to the United States of America and Europe", RIA news agency quoted Serebrennikov as saying.

He also offered to play the role of intermediary between the United States and Russian Federation, whose relationship has been on edge over the chemical weapons attack and amid allegations that Russian Federation tried to interfere in the USA 2016 presidential election.

The Western leaders were also facing scrutiny at home over their actions.

Britain's May will make a statement to parliament on Monday on her decision and will repeat her assertion that Assad's forces were highly likely responsible for the attack.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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