Syria chemical attack: Inspectors allowed into Douma

21 April, 2018, 10:31 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • AFPThree targets were hit with missiles

Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) traveled to Syria last week to inspect the site, but have yet to gain access to Douma, which is now under government control after the rebels withdrew.

She said the United States had information that both chlorine and sarin nerve gas were used in the attack and was concerned that evidence was deteriorating the longer inspectors were kept from reaching the site.

On Monday, Syrian and Russian authorities prevented investigators from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) from going to the scene, the head of the OPCW said, blocking worldwide efforts to establish what happened and who was to blame.

The punitive attacks early on Saturday were launched before a fact-finding team from the OPCW was able to enter Douma and begin its fieldwork.

The British government is not legally bound to seek the parliament's approval for military strikes, although it is customary to do so, and many lawmakers expressed anger that they were not consulted. The Associated Press spoke to survivors and witnesses who described being hit by gas, fainting, and discovering their relatives had died, with foam bubbling around their mouths.

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Syria and its ally Russia deny any chemical attack took place, and Russian officials went even further, accusing Britain of staging a "fake" chemical attack.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was the "obligation of the Syrian government to provide all the conditions for (OPCW inspectors) to work without any restrictions".

The inspectors, who wanted to take samples and interview people, "are now being prevented from doing so by the regime and the Russians", Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain said in Parliament.

The former rebel Syrian town of Douma on the outskirts of Damascus is seen on April 17, 2018 after the Syrian army declared that all anti-regime forces have left Eastern Ghouta, following a blistering two month offensive on the rebel enclave.

Syrian activists said more than 40 people were killed in the alleged attack.

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

He said: "The Government's failure to seek - let alone obtain - parliamentary approval for these air strikes sets a precedent for potential and more unsafe future action not just in Syria, but other countries".

Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the Western strikes had violated worldwide law and set back the peace process, the Kremlin said.

It was after the strikes launched by the USA, the United Kingdom and France against Syria, when the most radical militant groups renewed active hostilities against the Syrian Army in the Douma region.

The Pentagon said there was no USA military activity in that area "at this time". She accused Syria, aided by Russian Federation, of trying to block an investigation into the gas attack by the global chemical weapons watchdog. Israel did not confirmed or deny mounting the raid.

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