Published: Wed, April 18, 2018
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

United Nations source: OPCW experts unlikely to enter Douma on Wednesday

United Nations source: OPCW experts unlikely to enter Douma on Wednesday

WEAPONS inspectors finally entered Douma yesterday to investigate the suspected chemical attack, according to Syrian state media.

Putin and Merkel also underlined the need for a thorough and unbiased investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) mission in Syria.

The U.N. source did not say when the inspectors might visit the site, or whether a planned visit to Douma on Wednesday had been postponed.

Syria and its ally Russia deny any chemical attack took place, and Russian officials have accused Britain of staging a "fake" chemical attack. The military action has sparked sharp backlash against British Prime Minister Theresa May, who is being denounced for carrying out the airstrikes without parliamentary approval.

Experts arrived in Damascus on Saturday, but they have been unable to visit the nearby town of Douma because of "security issues" cited by Russian Federation.

The Associated Press, during a government-organized visit Monday to Douma, spoke to survivors and witnesses who described being hit by gas. Doctors said the people they treated at hospitals following the attack showed symptoms of poisoning from chlorine gas, which was first used as a battlefield weapon in World War I.

Such a strike would have been three times the size of the military action that was eventually carried out by the US, UK and France in the early hours of last Saturday in which a total of 105 missiles were launched at Syrian targets.

"It is possible to conclude that this laboratory was used by illegal armed groups to produce poisonous substances", Rodionov said.

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At the time of the alleged attack, Douma was held by the Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam).

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was the "obligation of the Syrian government to provide all the conditions for (OPCW inspectors) to work without any restrictions".

In response, the United States, France and Britain conducted missile strikes on Syrian military installations, but Paris admitted on Tuesday they were a matter of "honour" that had solved nothing.

"With the political and diplomatic actions that we're taking now, we wanted their friends Iran and Russian Federation to know that we meant business and that they were going to be feeling the pain from this as well", she said.

The West has accused Syria of failing to live up to its commitment to scrap its chemical weapons program, under a 2013 deal reached between the United States and Russian Federation.

Russian Federation says the United Nations ordered the visit stopped for security reasons, and Syrian officials say they've been meeting with the OPCW delegation. Israel did not confirm or deny the allegations.

An global inspection mission to Syria looked in question Tuesday after Western powers which accused Damascus of using chemical weapons warned that evidence had likely been removed. A odd smell lingered, nine days after the attack. Nuseir said a cylinder was found leaking the poison gas, adding that he didn't think it was dropped from the air because it still looked intact.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the Western strikes had violated worldwide law and set back the peace process, the Kremlin said.

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