Russia, Syria try to 'clear out' chemical attack site, - US State Department

On April 9, officers from the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the opposing sides in Syria visited Douma but did not find any traces of chemical weapons.

Stephane Dujarric said at the United Nations headquarters that "due to the volatility" of the situation in Douma the United Nations did not want "to telegraph" when a security team would return to to see if conditions were safe for the inspectors to visit.

France, the US and Britain bombed suspected Syrian chemical weapons sites last week, saying Syrian President Bashar Assad's government was behind the Douma attack, which killed at least 40 people. But the Syrian government later said it was the United Nations security team that had gone there.

Nauert added that Russian officials have "worked with the Syrian regime to sanitize the locations of the suspected attacks and remove incriminating evidence of chemical weapons use".

Amid heightened concerns about Syria's chemical weapons, three Belgian companies are set to be prosecuted for exporting chemicals to Syria, including a common substance that can also be used in the production of sarin nerve gas.

U.S. President Donald Trump invited his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to the United States during a phone call, and said he would be glad to see Putin in the White House, RIA Novosti reported on Friday, citing the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Russia-U.S. relations have sunk to post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The Kurdish-led SDF have been of the U.S.'s most trusted allies in Syria in its war on the Islamic State group.

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The White House says it wants to wind down America's troop presence in Syria.

Their destination was Jarablus, a town under shared Turkish and Syrian opposition control near the Syria-Turkey border.

These two questions elicit bipartisan agreement: Republicans and Democrats both favor a response to chemical weapons attacks, and generally reject a responsibility to take action to stop the fighting, though Republicans are very closely divided.

Journalists visiting Douma on a government-organized tour Monday did not report any security threats.

Residents say they worry that Syrian authorities and their Russian allies are whitewashing the history of April 7.

Tuesday brought new reports that Washington now wishes to replace the approximately 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria with Arab forces, a sign that the Trump administration may be resigned to delegating regional decision-making to local powers.

According to military analysts, the S-300 surface-to-air missile system would improve Russia's ability to control air space in Syria, where Moscow's forces support Assad, and could be aimed at deterring tougher US action.

Fighters from the Army of Islam and their families were to leave the town of Dumayr as part of the arrangement, the state-affiliated al-Ikhbariya TV station said.


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