United Nations team fired on in Syria while visiting suspected chemical sites

NATO's Jens Stoltenberg also backed the strikes
GETTY ANADOLUNATO's Jens Stoltenberg also backed the strikes
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19 April, 2018

The head of the International Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said Monday that Russian and Syrian authorities had prevented his team from reaching the scene of the attack in the Damascus suburb of Douma, due to what the two countries said were "security issues" caused by us and allied missile strikes over the weekend.

Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari on Tuesday told a meeting of the UN Security Council that the team of experts would begin work on Wednesday once they receive the all-clear from their security detail.

The US, UK and France could not "wait around" for an independent probe into the alleged chemical attack in Douma, and chose to bomb Syria based on reports and intelligence that cannot be revealed, the US State Department said.

Following his latest chemical attack, which killed at least 70 people and injured dozens more, the U.S., the United Kingdom, and France coordinated a missiles strike on three sites that are crucial to Assad's chemical weapons use.

Russian Federation and the Syrian government have denied responsibility for the alleged attack, which took place during a government assault on the then rebel-held town.

Retaking Douma means the Syrian government controls the building hit in the suspected chemical attack, which sparked the USA coalition strikes. Zuckerberg to meet European Union digital chief MORE "got ahead of the curve" when she announced additional sanctions on Russian Federation, top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Tuesday.

In the southern suburbs of Damascus on Wednesday, Syrian government forces continued to shell neighborhoods held by ISIS, including parts of Yarmouk, the country's largest Palestinian neighborhood.

The UK and United States have said the strikes were successful, with President Trump warning the USA is "locked and loaded" for further action if there are more chemical attacks.

It said Russians or Syrians may have tampered with evidence on the ground.

OPCW inspectors plan to gather soil and other samples to help identify any chemicals that might have been used.

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Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said earlier this week that the US won't rule out airstrikes on Syria after the chemical attack . Western leaders, including the U.S., France , and the United Kingdom , are coordinating on how to respond to the attack.


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While the United States, France, and the United Kingdom all say the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad is to blame for the attack.

"It is our understanding the Russians may have visited the attack site", he said in comments at a closed-door meeting which were obtained by Reuters.

The United States, France and Britain launched 105 missiles on Saturday targeting what the Pentagon said were three chemical weapons facilities in Syria, in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack in the Syrian town of Douma on April 7.

"Cleaning up a site after a chemical attack to the point where no traces of the agent or of characteristic degradation products can be found is hard, in particular when the impact site was a building".

Syrian state media early April 17 said air defenses had shot down several missiles over the central province of Homs.

"I would tell Mr. Trump, 'What you did was unbelievable, ' just like you did a year ago after Assad used chemical weapons in Khan Shaykhun", he said. Trump was also willing to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, she added, indicating that no such encounter was imminent. The Associated Press met with residents who said they were overwhelmed by chlorine fumes on the night of the alleged attack, and lost their loved ones.

Peskov called the US -led air strikes a "violation of global law" and an act of aggression.

The U.N. and human rights agencies say such arrangements amount to forced population displacement, a war crime. CBS News broadcast footage of what experts said appeared to be chlorine canisters.

"The idea of creating a mechanism on attributing responsibility for the use of chemical weapons no longer makes any sense when Washington and its allies have already determined who's guilty and in essence are already acting like self-appointed executioners", Mr Nebenzia said.


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