Chemical weapons team kept from attack site in Syria

Chemical weapons team kept from attack site in Syria

On Tuesday, Syria's UN ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said: "Today the UN security team entered Douma.in order to assess the security situation on the ground and if this United Nations security team decided that the situation is sound in Douma then the fact-finding mission will begin its work in Douma tomorrow". One Syrian security officer was injured in a resulting firefight, according to a statement by the Russian military.

The U.S. State Department had accused Russian Federation of trying to block the inspectors from investigating the deadly attack in Douma "by making it more complicated" for the specialists to do their work.

Russia's military said Tuesday it had uncovered a chemical weapons stockpile left behind by the rebels in Douma.

Russian Federation has rejected France's proposal at a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting that called for the launch of an independent investigation over an alleged chemical attack that struck the former rebel-held town of Douma in Syria's Eastern Ghouta.

On Saturday, the U.S., France and Britain bombarded sites they said were linked to Syria's chemical weapons program.

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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 Syrian "White Helmets" rescue organization, which operates largely in rebel-held areas, said on Wednesday that it had pinpointed for worldwide inspectors the places where the victims of the chemical attack are buried, its head Raed Saleh said on Wednesday.

The Associated Press, during a government-organized visit Monday to Douma, spoke to survivors and witnesses who described being hit by gas.

At least 40 people are believed to have died in the attack on Douma, which until Saturday was the last rebel-held town near Damascus.

Syria's United Nations ambassador said on Tuesday the fact-finding mission would begin its work in Douma on Wednesday if the United Nations security team deemed the situation there safe. Shayrat air base was targeted by US Tomahawk missiles in April past year in a strike ordered by President Donald Trump in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib.

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However, Russia has repeatedly denied all allegations.

The U.S. State Department has accused the Syrian government and its ally Russian Federation of trying to cover up the alleged April 7 attack.

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. The Army of Islam surrendered Douma two days later.

"We certainly did get additional insights into the targeting of the facilities, what we knew about it, what we know about the attack itself, what these facilities were used for, what actions if any took place between the time the President announced we were going to strike and when we did strike, so we got an additional granularity", said California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff.

Former Douma residents now in northern Syria told The National anyone still in Douma was likely unable to speak freely for fear of retribution from the government.

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The West has criticized the delay in allowing access to the site to the investigators, who arrived in Syria last week. All the rebel groups controlling areas of eastern Ghouta eventually agreed surrender deals that involved withdrawal to opposition-held areas of northwestern Syria. It now looks like, this didn't stop Syrian government forces from using chemical agents again.

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