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

Russian Federation says chemical weapons inspection delayed due to air strikes

Russian Federation says chemical weapons inspection delayed due to air strikes

Russian Federation may have visited the site of an alleged poison gas attack in the Syrian town of Douma and "tampered with" evidence, the United States ambassador to the global chemical arms watchdog said Monday.

Members of the 41-seat executive council of the OPCW were due to discuss the alleged use of prohibited toxins in Syria, but were not expected to reach any agreement about a response.

Earlier, Britain's delegation to the OPCW accused Russian Federation and the Syrian government of preventing the global watchdog's inspectors from reaching Douma.

What did Lavrov say exactly?

Douma was a rebel stronghold at the time of the attack on 7 April and is now under the control of the Syrian government and Russian military.

"I can not be impolite to the heads of other states. but frankly speaking, all the evidence they quoted was based on media reports and social networks".

The Syrian regime and Russian Federation deny chemical weapons were used in the final offensive that captured Douma, a rebel-held territory east of Damascus.

'The worldwide community will not allow chemical weapons to come back into our everyday life, ' she said.

"Even if the OPCW team is able to visit Douma to gather information to make that assessment - and they are now being prevented from doing so by the regime and the Russians - it can not attribute responsibility", she said.

Asked if he felt he was in a new Cold War, Mr Lavrov told the BBC's Hardtalk: "I think it is worse, because during the Cold War there were channels of communication and there was no obsession with Russophobia, which looks like genocide by sanctions".

What else is happening today?

Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen and French Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian talk with Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, European commissioner Johannes Hahn and Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl during European Union foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg, April 16, 2018.

But the British delegation to the OPCW, citing the agency's director general, said Russian Federation and the Syrian regime had not yet allowed inspectors access to the sites in Douma.

Mr Macron maintained that he "never said" either the United States or France would stay engaged long-term in Syria in a military sense - hours after saying in a live Sunday interview that he had managed to change Mr Trump's mind on withdrawing troops.

"We put facts contrary to your myths", he said.

In his televised address from the White House on Friday, Trump said the U.S. was prepared to keep up the economic, diplomatic and military pressure on Assad until he ends a pattern of killing his own people with internationally banned chemical weapons.

However, the White House said Mr Trump still wants USA forces to withdraw from the region as soon as possible.

What was targeted on Saturday?

Britain has said there are no plans for future strikes against Syria, but Johnson warned Assad that all options would be considered if chemical weapons were used against Syrians again.

The proposed sanctions follow USA -led airstrikes against Syria's chemical weapons capability and President Trump's promise that Assad and his allies, namely Moscow, would pay a "big price" for enabling the use of chemical weapons.

Trump tweeted "Mission Accomplished" on Saturday after US, French and British warplanes and ships launched more than 100 missiles almost unopposed by Syrian air defences.

"It is our understanding the Russians may have visited the attack site", USA ambassador Ken Ward told emergency talks of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague. While he declared success, the Pentagon said the pummeling of three chemical-related facilities left enough others intact to enable the Assad government to use banned weapons against civilians if it chooses. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of, its sponsors or advertisers. This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries.

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