Chemical arms experts due in Douma on Wednesday, says Russian Federation

Robyn Valdez
April 21, 2018

The coalition attack also forced the Syrian authorities and the Russian military to change route plans and once again negotiate with some local groups in Douma to facilitate the safe access of the OPCW investigators to the site of the alleged chemical attack. "At site two, the team came under small arms fire and an explosive was detonated". No one was injured, and the team returned to Damascus, the source said.

An internal White House quarrel over the timing of new Russian Federation sanctions played out in public when the new economic adviser suggested U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley was suffering from "momentary confusion" and Haley retorted: "With all due respect, I don't get confused".

But they have made none of that evidence public, even after they, along with Britain, carried out airstrikes on Saturday, bombing sites they said were linked to Syria's chemical weapons program.

Trump tweeted "Mission Accomplished" on Saturday after U.S., French and British warplanes and ships launched more than 100 missiles almost unopposed by Syrian air defenses.

Uzumcu told an emergency meeting of the organization in The Hague that Russian and Syrian officials have informed the OPCW team that there were "still pending security issues to be worked out before any deployment could take place".

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The US envoy to the OPCW, Kenneth Ward, said on Monday he was concerned Russian Federation may have "tampered with" the site of the Douma attack. Britain's ambassador to the OPCW Peter Wilson said it was now unclear when the inspectors would be able to reach it.

Worldwide inspectors have entered the Syrian town where an alleged chemical attack was carried out earlier this month, following delays by Syrian and Russian authorities.

The U.S. -led intervention has threatened to escalate confrontation between the West and Assad's backer Russian Federation, although it has had no impact on the fighting on the ground, in which pro-government forces have pressed on with a campaign to crush the rebellion.

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

A false alarm set off Syrian air defense systems early on Tuesday, the military said, denying earlier reports of an "outside aggression" and incoming airstrikes and underscoring the chaotic nature of the multiple actors in Syria's theater of war. Over the next 36 hours, officials began to delve deeper into the proposed sanctions and chose to hold off on anything imminent, but Haley was unaware, the officials said.

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Douma was the last town held by rebels in the eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus, until they surrendered the day after the alleged gas attack.

Journalists were allowed access to the suspected attack sites on Monday, but the OPCW said Syrian and Russian authorities blocked the inspectors.

It was the first time MPs had the chance to question Mrs May over her decision to join the U.S. and France in attacking Syria due to the Easter break.

The AP visited a two-room underground shelter where Khaled Mahmoud Nuseir said 47 people were killed, including his pregnant wife and two daughters, 18-month-old Qamar and 2 1/2-year-old Nour. Government forces and Russian troops have been deployed in Douma, which is now controlled by the Syrian government.

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