Syria 'chemical attack': OPCW investigators to be allowed into Douma

Lester Mason
April 20, 2018

As the on-the-ground investigation gets under way, the fallout from the US-led response continued to reverberate, with French President Emmanuel Macron claiming to have persuaded President Donald Trump to keep his troops in Syria.

Russian military said on Tuesday it had found a laboratory in Douma.

"This raises serious questions about the ability of the (team) to do its job", Ward said.

During an address to the Security Council, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged all states "to show restraint in these risky circumstances and to avoid any acts that could escalate matters and worsen the suffering of the Syrian people".

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a U.N. Security Council meeting on Syria on Saturday.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesday that Staffan de Mistura embarked on the consultations following a meeting Monday with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the Arab League summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia "and in view of current tensions".

The accusation drew condemnation from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, saying he "can guarantee" that Moscow did not tamper with the site.

The sanctions follow US -led airstrikes against Syria's chemical weapons capability and President Trump's promise that Assad and his allies, namely Moscow, would pay a "big price" for enabling the use of chemical weapons.

Alaa, whose last name has been omitted for security reasons, is a Syrian civil societz worker in Damascus.

A fact-finding mission from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is due to visit the site of the suspected gas attack. Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko of the Russian military's Reconciliation Center in Syria.

At a first site, the United Nations team withdrew after a large crowd gathered, OPCW director general Ahmet Üzümcü said in statement.

On Monday, CBS News made it to the house where the chemical attack took place.


Meanwhile, the French Foreign Ministry, in a statement, accused the Syrian government and Russian Federation of deliberately barring the OPCW from entering Douma in the past few days so that the evidence of the suspected gas attack disappeared without a trace.

The UN official, who declined to be named, said the security team would remain in Damascus with the OPCW experts for the time being.

Rice responded with the same talking points she and other members of Obama's administration have used to defend its foreign policy stance in Syria by claiming that a deal with Assad and Russian Federation was secured to remove all chemical weapons stockpiles.

The trio of Western powers that carried out the strikes warned they would repeat the operation if Damascus used chemical weapons again. "And a wider operation to hide the facts of the attack is underway, supported by the Russians", she said.

Syrian and Russian officials denied the attack, with latter trying to pin it on the U.K. However, if reports from OANN are considered to be true, there was no need for retaliation.

Rice also admitted in her remarks that the Assad regime apparently did not destroy its chemical weapons. The Syrian military would then enter the town.

Syrian state news agency SANA said a total of 5,000 people including 1,500 rebels were expected to leave the town. It also showed footage of what it says are weapons handed over to the Syrian military.

The Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta has been under siege for the last five years.

Many in Washington have expressed doubt that the goals of deterring chemical weapons attacks in Syria, while also taking control of the final pockets of territory controlled by the Islamic State along the Syrian-Iraqi border, can possibly be reconciled with President Donald Trump's insistence on immediately withdrawing the some 2,000 USA troops deployed at a series of small bases in northeastern Syria.

"What we understand is that they are going to inspect and investigate the site of that alleged chemical weapons attack", said Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from Beirut in neighbouring Lebanon.

The inspectors entered Douma on Tuesday after arriving in Syria on Saturday.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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