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

Worldwide chemical inspectors launch probe in Syria

Worldwide chemical inspectors launch probe in Syria

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said "nothing is certain" when asked whether he believed the strikes would deter Syrian President Bashar Assad from using chemical weapons again.

The United States said on Saturday it overwhelmed and evaded Syrian air defenses overnight to strike every target at the heart of Syria's chemical weapons program, in a multi-pronged attack from the air and sea alongside British and French allies.

Putin told his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, also an Assad ally, that any new Western strikes in Syria would provoke "chaos in worldwide relations". Damascus and Moscow deny blame for any such attack.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday that he had convinced Trump, who has previously said he wanted to take US forces out of Syria, to stay for "the long term".

Assad also declined to comment on calls by the US State Department to declare alleged Syrian stockpiles of chemical weapons, Zheleznyak said. "I suspect, however, they'll think long and hard about it".

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the U.S. mission "has not changed" and Trump wanted troops home "as quickly as possible". Moscow condemned the Western states for refusing to wait for the OPCW's findings before attacking.

The president was in a "good mood" and continuing his work in Damascus, agencies cited the lawmakers as saying, and praised the Soviet-era air defense systems Syria used to help to repel the Western attacks. It was not clear when the visit would take place.

"For the U.K.'s part, four RAF Tornado GR 4's launched storm shadow missiles at a military facility some 15 miles (24 kilometres) west of Homs, where the regime is assessed to keep chemical weapons in breach of Syria's obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention", she said.

Russian and Iranian military help over the past three years has allowed Assad to crush the rebel threat to topple him.

Russian Federation said on Saturday it would consider supplying S-300 surface to-air missile systems to Syria following the Western strikes, but this was not discussed at the meeting with Assad, agencies reported.

The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah said on Sunday that Western strikes on Syria had failed to achieve anything, including terrorizing the army, helping insurgents or serving the interests of Israel. U.S. President Donald Trump said the operation was in response to the "evil and despicable" attack last Saturday on civilians.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) released a statement Saturday saying the organization is in Syria to conduct an investigation into the allegation that the April 7 attack in Duma was a chemical one and will remain there until the task is complete. The mechanism would look at cases where the OPCW fact-finding mission has established chemical weapons were used or likely used.

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