Chemical inspectors await all-clear to begin work in Syria's Douma

21 April, 2018, 10:27 | Author: Katrina Soto
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France's foreign ministry on Tuesday said it was very likely that proof has disappeared from the site of a suspected poison gas attack in Syria, adding it was essential that worldwide inspectors be given full access to the site.

The United States accused Russia on Monday of blocking worldwide inspectors from reaching the site of a suspected poison gas attack in Syria and said Russians or Syrians may have tampered with evidence on the ground.

"I can guarantee that Russian Federation has not tampered with the site", Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the BBC. He had warned Russian Federation to back off as missiles were heading towards Syria.

"We will not indulge the authors of these fake reports", Zakharova added, explaining that the Russian side "does its part of the work in a very responsible, professional and reliable manner".

US forces fired 66 Tomahawk cruise missiles - with a total cost of about $92 million - and Lockheed Martin's JASSM-ER missile made its combat debut in the Syrian strikes.

On Tuesday, Syrian state media said air defence had shot down missiles over the central province of Homs, with the strikes reportedly targeting regime air bases.

On Monday, OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said Syrian and Russian authorities had blocked its inspectors from going to Douma and instead offered them 22 people to interview as witnesses.

"If the Russians and Syrians have nothing to hide, it's odd that they would wait 36 to 72 hours", he said.

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"The Syrian regime has reportedly been attempting to hide the evidence by searching evacuees from Douma to ensure samples are not being smuggled from this area". She stressed that it is Russian Federation and Syria that bear the responsibility for the security of the OPCW experts.

The reported attack led to Western airstrikes against the Syrian government over the weekend.

Medical aid groups and the White Helmets rescue organization have said such statements - already aired on state television in recent days - were made under duress.

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".

At a meeting in Luxembourg, the 28 European Union foreign ministers endorsed the missile strikes and considered steps to deepen Assad's isolation. "And we have published the legal basis for this action", the British premier said.

Theresa May defended her decision to authorise British bombing raids on Syria without support from MPs as she refused to commit to seeking parliamentary approval for similar action in the future.

"We have not done this because President Trump asked us to, we have done it because we believed it was the right thing to do, and we are not alone".

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