Chemical weapons inspectors enter Syrian town of Douma, state news agency says

Lucy Bush
April 18, 2018

On Monday, White House officials said Mr. Trump had not yet decided whether to impose sanctions on Russian companies found to be assisting Syria's chemical weapons program.

On Monday, Syrian and Russian authorities prevented investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons from going to the scene, the head of the OPCW said, blocking worldwide efforts to establish what happened and who was to blame. Igor Kirillov, a Russian chemical weapons protection expert in The Hague, said the team is set to visit the site Wednesday.

FILE - A child is treated in a hospital in Douma, near Damascus, Syria, after a suspected chemical attack, April 7, 2018.

"Atrous said "( U.S. President) Donald Trump has only carried out his threats. that may fuel violence and terrorism in the region", and "those strikes are (not only) without proof but also without the approval of the United Nations. raise questions about the usefulness of law and global justice".

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But on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron adopted a more nuanced view of the attack.

"Three countries have intervened, and let me be quite frank, quite honest - this is for the honour of the worldwide community", he said in the French city of Strasbourg. "These strikes don't necessarily resolve anything, but I think they were important".

The accounts contradict what the Syrian government and Russian Federation have reported: that there was no gas attack in Douma. Another strike earlier this month in Homs was blamed on Israel.

Earlier Monday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the inspectors could not go to the site because they needed approval from the U.N. Department for Safety and Security. United Nations officials in NY disputed the claim. Russian Federation said the incident was staged and accused Britain of having a hand in fabricating a pretext for the tri-party attack against Syria.

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Worldwide investigators on Tuesday entered a Syrian town hit by an alleged chemical attack, after days of delay and warnings by Western powers that crucial evidence had likely been removed. Russia, which backs Assad, also has denied that a chemical attack occurred, and noted that it initially invited the weapons inspectors to Duma.

Big explosions were heard overnight near Shayrat air base, southeast of Homs city, and near Damascus where two other air bases are located, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

"The only thing that I can hope that is positive that came out of the awful news in Syria last week is to reinvigorate that political process", she said.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini made a similar call Monday ahead of a ministerial meeting, saying there is a clear need to push for re-launching the United Nations -led peace process.

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