OPCW inspectors to be allowed in to Douma

British Prime Minister Theresa May accused the two countries - whose forces now control the town east of Damascus - of trying to cover up evidence.

Experts from the global chemical weapons watchdog are now in Damascus and have been waiting to visit the site of the suspected chemical attack in the town of Douma, just east of Damascus.

"But the fact of the matter is that Bashar al-Assad is responsible yet again for gassing and killing innocent men, women and children". The Russian government accused the United Kingdom of staging the attack, which the British government says is "ludicrous". Douma was freed by Syrian government forces last week, after a Russia-brokered agreement with Jaysh al-Islam militants occupying the town resulted in their mass evacuation to Syria's north. Civilians who had been forced to endure life under the militants left the town through humanitarian corridors in their thousands.

The U.S. State Department had accused Russian Federation of trying to block the inspectors from investigating the deadly attack in Douma "by making it more complicated" for the specialists to do their work.

"We are concerned they may have tampered with it with the intent of thwarting the efforts of the OPCW fact-finding mission to conduct an effective investigation", he said.

A United Nations official says a U.N. team on a security mission to the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria was sacked upon and had to return to its base in Damascus.

The U.S. military has said there was "probably" chlorine and "possibly" sarin at "possibly" all the sites.

Asked when the United Nations security team would make another visit, he said, "as soon as practicable".

But a Washington Post report said President Donald Trump abandoned that idea following the missile strike, and was unlikely to approve additional penalties without a new provocation. Trump was also willing to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, she added, while indicating that no such encounter was imminent. "Unfettered access is essential", it said in a statement. Packing its bags and vacating the playing field to the likes of Russia, Iran, and Hizballah is escapism masquerading as strategy.

A Pentagon spokesman referred Reuters to Mattis' warning to Assad and his forces to "not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack for which they will be held accountable".

The US and France say they have evidence that poison gas was used in the April 7 attack in Douma, killing at least 40 people, and that Syrian President Bashar Assad's military was behind it.

In response, the United States, France and Britain conducted unprecedented missile strikes on Syrian military installations, but Paris admitted on Tuesday they were a matter of "honour" that had solved nothing.

He and Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, were said to have been pushing for a more robust strike. This was at the very beginning after this information (of the attack) appeared. He further suggested that Russians or Syrians may have tampered with evidence on the ground.

"Wednesday is when we expect the arrival of the OPCW experts and Russian Federation is not preventing this in any way", Igor Kirillov said.

The inspectors arrived in Damascus on the day of the Western strikes but had not been allowed to enter Douma.

Syria and its ally Russian Federation denied responsibility for the April 7 attack.

On Tuesday, Syrian state media said air defence had shot down missiles over the central province of Homs, with the strikes reportedly targeting regime air bases.

USA officials said the assessment was that the strikes, particularly on Barzah, did degrade Syria's chemical weapons capability.

Even if they find that weapons have been used, the inspectors can't say who deployed them.


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