President Trump still defends US-led airstrikes after learning the truth
President Trump still defends US-led airstrikes after learning the truth
An Islamic State fighter firing his weapon during clashes with Syrian troop in Souseh eastern Syria
19 April, 2018, 02:13
An inspection by Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inspectors was delayed after United Nations security personnel "encountered a security issue" involving protesters and gunfire, Reutersreported, citing sources with knowledge of revelations made by OPCW director-general Ahmet Üzümcü Wednesday at the organization's headquarters in The Hague.
Less than two days later, the Army of Islam rebels surrendered the town, which was the last stronghold in the once rebellious eastern Ghouta region at the doorstep of Damascus.
The officials were greeted by a "large crowd" of protesters at one site, forcing them to withdraw while at the second site "they were subject to small-arms fire and an explosion", Wilson said, citing information from the OPCW director general.
The United Nation vehicle carrying the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inspectors is seen in Damascus, Syria April 17, 2018.
Syria and its ally Russian Federation had invited inspectors with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to visit the town, but then were accused of blocking them from accessing it for several days.
Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Al Jaafari had said the fact-finding mission would begin its work in Douma on Wednesday if the UN security team deemed the situation there to be safe enough. But three days have passed without a clear indication of when they will be able to enter the attack site.
The U.S., France and Britain struck against suspected chemical weapons facilities belonging to the Syrian government on Saturday, after concluding that Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces were behind the attack.
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.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Tuesday that airstrikes on Syrian chemical sites on April 7 by the U.S., Britain and France had set back political negotiations to end the even-year conflict.
Syrian state news agency SANA said a total of 5,000 people including 1,500 rebels were expected to leave the town.
But Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov denied any interference and again insisted there was no attack. The OPCW team does not have a mandate to assign blame for the attack.
United States officials have raised concerns that Russian Federation may have tampered with the site while inspectors were denied access.
She will repeat Saturday's assertion that Britain is "confident in our own assessment that the Syrian regime was highly likely responsible" and that it could not wait "to alleviate further humanitarian suffering caused by chemical weapons attacks", according to excerpts of her speech.
But on Wednesday, OPCW said that's not what happened. The latest weapons being used against civilians in Syria are chemical weapons.
Syrian state TV reported overnight that anti-aircraft defences had shot down missiles fired at an air base in the Homs area, and a media unit run by the Lebanese group Hezbollah said missiles had also targeted an air base near Damascus. He spoke in an interview with Turkey's NTV television.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday warned that if the strikes continue, "it will inevitably entail chaos in worldwide relations".
Nebenzia said the Western allies should also end "hateful rhetoric" against Syria and Russian Federation, separate military groups "from terrorists once and for all", and provide humanitarian assistance to Syria.
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