Chemical inspectors launch probe in Syria after Western strikes

Apr 16, 2018, 04:50
Chemical inspectors launch probe in Syria after Western strikes

The United States, the United Kingdom and France are pushing for an "irreversible" end to Syria's chemical weapons program, amid furious recriminations from Russian Federation over the effectiveness and legality of a wave of US-led missile strikes on Syrian targets.

An worldwide fact-finding mission from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is now in Syria and expected to visit Douma.

"The fact-finding team arrived in Damascus on Saturday and is due to go to Douma on Sunday", Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Ayman Soussan told AFP.

Assad didn't comment on calls by the US State Department to declare alleged Syrian stockpiles of chemical weapons during the meeting.

Syria agreed in 2013 to give up its chemical weapons after a nerve gas attack killed hundreds of people in Douma. A senior administration official told reporters Saturday that while there was more publicly available evidence pointing to the use of chlorine, the US has "significant information that also points to sarin use".

Putin and Rouhani spoke by phone to discuss the situation in Syria after the United States, France and Britain launched missile strikes on the country over a chemical attack.

"We have to be very conscious of the fact that we can't allow even the smallest use of chemical weapons", Ms. Haley said on "Fox News Sunday."That's why you saw the president strike this past weekend, that's why you saw him expel 60 Russian spies after the attack in Salisbury".

Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on Sunday that further Western missile strikes on Syria would lead to chaos in worldwide relations, Russian news agencies cited the Kremlin as saying. That's according to Dmitry Sablin, a member of the lower house of the Russian parliament, who was quoted by Russian news agencies.

The ambassador bristled, however, at host Chris Wallace's question if the United States had a zero tolerance policy against the use of chemical weapons, why it did not have one against Syria's use of conventional weapons against civilians.

"Mission accomplished" is the same phrase former President George W. Bush infamously used in 2003, after the US -led invasion of Iraq.

McKenzie, a Marine Corps general, said he has no reports of civilian casualties following the U.S. -led strikes and that the attacks overnight Friday were launched from U.S., France and United Kingdom aircraft and ships, including those in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and eastern Mediterranean Sea.

The Pentagon said no further action was planned but Washington's envoy to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, warned that the U.S. was "locked and loaded" should another gas attack occur.

The OPCW itself had declared that the Syrian government's chemical weapons stockpile had been removed in 2014, only to confirm later that sarin was used in a 2017 attack in the northern town of Khan Sheikhun. USA officials said they gave Russian Federation no specific warnings of the attacks or the targets, but used the usual hotline with Moscow's military to ensure the airspace was clear.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "will still continue to bomb his people, to gas his people".

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned against demonising Russia and said the air strikes raised the risk of a direct confrontation between USA and Russian forces in Syria for the first time.

Ms Haley's latest comments came after contradictions appeared within the U.S. position on Syria. We hit the sites, the heart of the chem-weapons program. "You have to remove al-Assad, not just the chemical weapons".

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

Haley also repeated her comment Saturday, at an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, that the us remains "locked and loaded".

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called it the Western air strikes a crime and the Western leaders criminals.

Assad accepted an invitation to visit the Siberian region of Khanty-Mansi in Russian Federation.

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