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Inspectors yet to enter Douma, US says

19 April 2018

It led to the rebel group that controlled Douma agreeing to surrender control of the town to the Syrian government.

Syria's United Nations ambassador, Bashar Ja'afari, told the Security Council that the United Nations team went to Douma to decide whether investigators from the global chemical weapons watchdog could safely visit the site. They are still waiting to visit nearby Douma, 11 days after the alleged attack took place.

Theresa May, who says there is clear evidence chemicals were used by the Syrian regime to drive out rebels, faced more criticism in Parliament yesterday for ordering air strikes in retaliation.

Journalists in Damascus were prevented by government minders from contacting the OPCW inspectors, and The Hague-based organization refused to comment on "operational details regarding the Douma deployment".

Civil defence rescuers, known as the "White Helmets", revealed on Wednesday that the victims of the April 7 chemical strike have been hidden in a secret location, which has been shared only with the OPCW. Syria and its main allies Iran and Russian Federation blamed Israel for that attack.

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People stand in front of damaged buildings, in the town of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack, near Damascus, Syria, Monday.

The AP visited a two-room underground shelter where Khaled Mahmoud Nuseir said 47 people were killed, including his pregnant wife and two daughters, 18-month-old Qamar and 2 1/2-year-old Nour. Shayrat air base was targeted by US Tomahawk missiles in April previous year in a strike ordered by President Donald Trump in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib.

The suspected April 7 gas attack on Douma, near Damascus, reportedly left more than 40 people dead and was blamed by Western powers on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

The government and its Russian allies say the attack was fabricated as a pretext to justify military strikes that were launched on Saturday by the United States, Britain and France.

The Associated Press spoke to survivors, who said they encountered a powerful smell like chlorine. The Syrian government and Russian Federation have denied using chemical weapons and accused rebels, with Western backing, of using such weapons or faking such an attack.

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Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also said the mission was not allowed in because it lacked approval from the United Nation's Department for Safety and Security.

"The three leaders agreed that the military strikes taken against the Syrian regime's chemical weapons sites had been a success", Downing Street said in a readout of the calls.

Putin reportedly stressed to Merkel that he believed the US, UK and France had broken worldwide law and hampered the Syrian peace process.

Lawmakers emerged from a classified administration briefing expressing concern about administration policy on Syria and the legal justification for last week's military strikes against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

"According to Thrush, neither Secretary of State John Kerry nor then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel were consulted before Obama made his decision to delay military action in Syria", Business Insider reported. "U.S".

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The U.N. -mandated Independent International Commission on Syria has documented more than 30 chemical attacks in Syria between 2013 and the end of 2017 - at least 25 of them carried out by the Syrian military, the commission says. The administration is "going down a unsafe path" with regards to Syria, he said, without offering details.

Inspectors yet to enter Douma, US says