Chemical weapons team in Syria kept from alleged attack site

17 April, 2018, 20:24 | Author: Jason Torres
  • Fighter jets were seen taking off from a British Royal Air Force base in Cyprus early on Saturday

Meanwhile, Russia says it will help secure visit of worldwide chemical weapons inspectors to site of an alleged attack in Syria.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) said it maintained its position that the Syrian crisis should be handled by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Separately, the pro-Iranian Hezbollah militia said Syrian air defences intercepted three missiles aimed at Dumair military airport northeast of Damascus.

It didn't say who carried out the early Tuesday airstrikes.

Previously, Russia and Syria cited "pending security issues to be worked out" as the reason inspectors were initially denied access to the Douma site.

The reports came just a few days after the United States, Britain and France conducted airstrikes targeting alleged chemical weapons facilities in Syria, in retaliation for a suspected poisonous gas attack.

Britain's delegation to the OPCW accused Russian Federation and the Assad government of stopping inspectors from reaching Douma.

It said French experts did not have chemical samples to evaluate, but analyzed "the symptoms identifiable in the images and videos that were made public". Others said that dust can seep into underground shelters, causing choking and other symptoms associated with chemical attacks.

Dr. Daghestani says some of his family members could be part of the society attacked previously by the Syrian government.

Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad has said his country is "fully ready" to cooperate with the OPCW mission.

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The inspectors entered Douma on Tuesday after arriving in Syria on Saturday. He said government officials met with the delegation several times to discuss cooperation.

The heavily armed and Tehran-backed Shi'ite movement has been a vital military ally of President Bashar al-Assad in the seven-year-old Syrian war.

The say the airstrikes last Saturday by the three nations were "limited, proportionate and necessary" and followed "only after exhausting every possible diplomatic option to uphold the worldwide norm against the use of chemical weapons".

Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied the claims, saying the OPCW needed United Nations permission before anyone could travel to the area. "I can guarantee that Russian Federation has not tampered with the site", he told the BBC.

Alexander Shulgin, the Russian envoy at the OPCW in The Hague, said allegations that Russia might destroy evidence reflected Washington's effort to justify Saturday's strikes.

In London, British Prime Minister Theresa May accused Syria and Russian Federation of trying to cover up evidence.

"The alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria can not be a justification for military airstrikes in a territory of a sovereign state without the authorisation of the UNSC".

"A wider operation to hide the facts of the attack is underway, supported by the Russians", she told lawmakers. Trump was also willing to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, she added, while indicating that no such encounter was imminent.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the strikes were a "clear message" to Assad, Russia and Iran that chemical weapons use is not acceptable and that the allies would not stand idle.

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