Sunday, 09 May, 2021


Chemical weapons inspectors await United Nations approval to enter Syrian town of Douma

Do you know what I’m doing?     EPA Do you know what I’m doing? EPA
Bennie Garza | 20 April, 2018, 04:45

It is not clear when an Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons fact-finding mission will be able to travel safely to Douma, Syria, the British ambassador to the body said on Wednesday.

The OPCW said Tuesday that Russian Federation and Syria had blocked the inspectors' access to Douma, a former opposition stronghold, citing security issues.

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, former head of the British army's chemical weapons unit who is now a consultant on chemical and biological weapons, said Tuesday that his contacts at clinics in Douma told him doctors from the suburb had been taken in recent days into central Damascus for briefings, and not returned.

Nebenzia said the Western allies should also end "hateful rhetoric" against Syria and Russian Federation, separate military groups "from terrorists once and for all", and provide humanitarian assistance to Syria.

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

Retaking Douma means the Syrian government controls the building hit in the suspected chemical attack, which sparked the USA coalition strikes.

The three Western powers fired around 100 missiles at three suspected chemical facilities in Syria on Saturday, saying they had proof that the government of President Bashar al-Assad was behind the Douma attack.

More than 70 people died in the suspected April 7 chemical attack - which ultimately drew a military response from the United States, Britain and France.

Recovering the Yarmouk camp and neighbouring areas south of the city would give Assad complete control over Syria's capital. Yarmouk, Syria's biggest camp for Palestinian refugees, has been under the control of Islamic State fighters for years. Although most residents have fled, the United Nations says several thousand remain. The OPCW is not tasked with assigning blame, only establishing whether chemical weapons were used, and if so, which ones. State television said on Tuesday that rebels in Dumayr had also agreed to withdraw. Russian Federation and Iran, both allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, have condemned the strikes - and Moscow has suggested the attack was "staged".

In Idlib in northwest Syria, the largest area still held by rebels, a government assault could bring Damascus into confrontation with Turkey, which has set up a string of military observation posts in the area.

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