Confusion over when inspectors will reach Syrian suspected chemical attack site
10:05, Apr 21, 2018
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The Syrian government and Russian sympathizers have denied allegations that a chemical attack took place, with the latter even accusing Britain of staging the gas attack.
The special investigators of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have arrived in Douma, the largest town of Eastern Ghouta, to probe a suspected chemical attack which was used as a pretext for a barrage of Western missile strikes against the Arab country, Syrian state media reports.
The allies struck Syrian military targets over the weekend in retaliation.
The government insists the incident in Douma on 7 April was fabricated.
Syrian activists said more than 40 people were killed in the alleged attack.
"On Wednesday is when we plan the arrival of the OPCW experts", he added at a press conference in the Russian embassy in The Hague.
They arrived in Douma more than a week after the US government and its allies accused President Bashar al-Assad of killing his own people with poison gas in the April 7 attack. It also reported a separate air strike on the Dumayr air base near Damascus.
The OPCW is investigating reports that government forces gassed sites in Douma on April 7, when the town was still held by rebels and home to tens of thousands of people - residents and others who were displaced by fighting elsewhere.
The U.K.'s military intervention in Syria was clearly "in our national interest to prevent the further use of chemical weapons in Syria", Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday.
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"We can not go back to a world where the use of chemical weapons becomes normalised".
The alleged attack and subsequent military response underscored the challenge that the seven-year conflict in Syria poses for the West. President Donald Trump wants to remove US troops from Syria, where it has been fighting the Islamic State militants.
She said the United States had information that both chlorine and sarin nerve gas were used in the attack and was concerned that evidence was deteriorating the longer inspectors were kept from reaching the site. Israel did not confirm or deny mounting the raid.
Several said a odd smell started spreading and people screamed: "It's chlorine!"
Medical charities operating in opposition-held parts of Syria have dismissed those statements as propaganda, given under duress now that government forces control the town.
The accusation drew condemnation from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, saying he "can guarantee" that Moscow did not tamper with the site.
"It was about a limited, targeted and effective strike that sought to alleviate the humanitarian suffering of the Syrian people by degrading the Syrian regime's chemical weapons capability and deterring their use".
Jerry Smith, a former chemical weapons inspector in Syria and founder of the RameHead Consulting International security firm, warned that a substance like chlorine could "disappear in a couple of hours".
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Their destination was Jarablus, a town under shared Turkish and Syrian opposition control near the Syria-Turkey border. Residents say they worry that Syrian authorities and their Russian allies are whitewashing the history of April 7.
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