Published: Mon, April 16, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Chemical watchdog OPCW convenes as Syria mission begins

Chemical watchdog OPCW convenes as Syria mission begins

Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have met Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad.

The OPCW declared that the Syrian government's chemical weapons stockpile had been removed in 2014, only to confirm later that sarin was used in a 2017 attack in the northern town of Khan Sheikhun.

The US-led strikes were the biggest global attack on President Bashar al-Assad's regime since the start of Syria's seven-year war.

In Assad's view, the airstrikes that were launched in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack by Syrian forces on the town of Douma will unify the country. "I am convinced that other groups will join the group of countries having a responsible attitude toward global law", Ryabkov said.And that group of healthy forces, I am convinced, will give a more and more resolute political rebuff to such attempts on the basis of worldwide relations", he said when asked what Russia's reaction will be if more attacks on Syria follow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, the regime's top ally, warned that fresh strikes would spark "chaos", but Washington vowed economic sanctions against Moscow rather than further military action.

In May previous year, the BBC reported that the Barzah site was being used by the Syrian regime to install chemical weapons on long-range missiles, violating the 2013 agreement to eliminate chemical weapons from the country.

Eid implored the president to "listen to his heart", not just his generals, and compared Trump's response in Syria to Obama's inaction.

Trump launched a military strike against the Syrian regime almost one year ago targeting a government airbase also in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed civilians.

Ryabkov said Russian Federation was guided by statements on the part of some Western countries' representatives that the US-led coalition has no current plans to continue attacks on Syria.

"We will ensure they can work professionally, objectively, impartially and free of any pressure", Assistant Foreign Minister Ayman Soussan told AFP.

Its team on the ground also faced the risk of arriving too late to a site where much of the evidence may have always been removed or tampered with.

Trump's "Mission Accomplished" tweet earned him parallels with George W. Bush's fatefully premature victory speech days after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Haley later told CBS that sanctions would be announced, likely on Monday, against Russian companies supplying the Syrian regime.

Those assertions have been denounced as lies by Western officials.

The April 7 strike on Douma, in which most experts say chlorine as well as an agent such as sarin were used, killed at least 40 people, according to local medics.

New satellite images show a glimpse of the damage done by the strike.

But Russia has blocked countless resolutions against its Syrian ally and the regime has appeared determined to continue its military reconquest of the country.

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