nsucurrent.com May 20, 2018

OPCW experts enter Douma to probe suspected gas attack: Syrian state media

21 April 2018, 10:07 | Ruby West

AFPThree targets were hit with missiles

AFPThree targets were hit with missiles

"At site two, the team came under small arms fire and an explosive was detonated".

De Bretton-Gordon said both chlorine and sarin gas - the weapons the US says were used in Douma on April 7 - dissipate quickly in open air, so inspectors will likely focus on obtaining biological medical samples from the victims to try and prove or disprove the presence of those toxins.

British Prime Minister Theresa May says Syria and Russian Federation - whose forces now control the town east of Damascus - are trying to cover up evidence.

The United States, Britain and France fired missiles at Syrian targets on Saturday in retaliation for the suspected chemical use.

The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin has told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the United States, Great Britain and France have violated worldwide law and hurt peace process in Syria by launching airstrikes at targets in Damascus.

Russia's representative at the OPCW Alexander Shulgin accused the West of pre-judging the inspection and blaming Moscow for blocking access to the site. Britain's ambassador to the OPCW Peter Wilson said it was now unclear when the inspectors would be able to reach it. Hours after the alleged chemical attack, the rebel faction that controlled the town, the Army of Islam, relented and was evacuated along with thousands of residents.

Russian Federation has openly announced that its representatives have been to the site, and a CBS journalist has also accessed the site, reporting from the location in recent days.

The OPCW team will seek evidence from soil samples, interviews with witnesses, blood, urine or tissue samples from victims and weapon parts.

The reported attack led to Western airstrikes against the Syrian government over the weekend.

"It was a message from the people", said the official. In the face of Haley's refusal to clarify on Sunday, draft language was sent to her suggesting again that she do so, the officials said.

Syria and Russian Federation deny unleashing poison gas on April 7 during their offensive on Douma, which ended with the recapture of the town that had been the last rebel stronghold near the capital, Damascus. Eastern Ghouta was captured by a government advance over the past two months.

Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) arrived in the Syrian capital 11 days ago, and the U.S. and the United Kingdom have both blamed Russian Federation for impeding the investigation. CNN, the Guardian and the New York Times all said that the OPCW experts were either "blocked" or "barred" from the alleged chemical attack site.

Activists on the ground in Syria said the attack killed more than 40 people and injured hundreds more sheltering from bombing in basements beneath the city.

As CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports, rebel forces had held Douma nearly since the start of the war in Syria, now more than seven years old, and the government's fight to take it back was fierce.

"The team has not yet deployed to Douma", Ahmet Uzumcu, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said on April 16.

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