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OPCW experts unlikely to enter Douma on Wednesday - UN source

OPCW experts unlikely to enter Douma on Wednesday - UN source”

They will investigate an alleged poison gas attack by the Syrian regime which is said to have killed at least 70 people. The last rebels abandoned the town on Saturday, hours after the US -led missile strikes, leaving government forces in control of the site of the suspected chemical attack. The inspectors arrived in Damascus at the weekend.

The OPCW inspectors are tasked with assessing whether banned chemical substances were used in the April 7 attack on the city, which senior United States officials have said involved both chlorine and sarin gas.

The three countries did not make their evidence public, and both the Syrian government and its ally Russian Federation have denied any chemical attack took place.

He said the regime had done "all that it can do to facilitate the work" of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inspectors who had already started their investigation, listening to witnesses to the suspected April 7 chemical attack.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is unable to comment on the possible delay in deploying chemical weapons experts to Syria's Duma over reports of gunfire because of the organization's policy, the OPCW's public affairs service told Sputnik on Wednesday.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was the "obligation of the Syrian government to provide all the conditions for [the chemical-weapons inspectors] to work without any restrictions". The team has been in-country since the weekend but Russian Federation and Syria had denied it access to Douma, Peter Wilson, the United Kingdom envoy to the chemical weapons watchdog group, said Monday.

Less than two days after the attack, the Army of Islam rebels surrendered the town, which was the last rebel stronghold in eastern Ghouta.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed allegations that Russia was trying to hamper the OPCW inspectors, saying Moscow strongly supports their mission to Douma.

Meanwhile, Alexander Rodionov of the Russian military's chemical-weapons protection unit said its experts found chlorine and components for producing mustard gas at a rebel laboratory in Douma.

Survivors reached by the Associated Press said they were overwhelmed by the smell of chlorine on the night of April 7.

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

In an impassioned defence to the European Parliament on Tuesday, France´s President Emmanuel Macron admitted that Saturday´s strikes had been a more political than military decision.

The UN-mandated Independent International Commission on Syria has documented more than 30 chemical attacks in Syria between 2013 and the end of 2017 - and says at least 25 of them were carried out by the Syrian military. "Three countries have intervened, and let me be quite frank: This is for the honor of the global community". He said the Obama administration did not agree to such an offer.

The latest round of diplomatic maneuvring comes as US-backed Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State group face a Turkish assault in northern Syria. Saudi Arabia is also a member of the USA -led coalition battling IS militants.

Syria's U.N. ambassador said on Tuesday a United Nations security team had gone to Douma ahead of the planned OPCW visit. But it said no missiles landed inside the bases.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported explosions were heard near Shayrat air base, southeast of Homs city, and near Damascus where two other air bases are located.

Earlier this month, four Iranian military personnel were killed in an airstrike on Syria's T4 air base, also in Homs.

Russian Federation appeared in no mood to extend a hand to the West on Syria however and its ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, called the diplomatic push "untimely". Israel did not confirm or deny it.



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