Air strikes reported in Syria

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The head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Uzumcu, told the closed-door meeting his inspectors had failed to gain access to the site so far, the British ambassador to the Netherlands told reporters.

Syrians walk through the destruction in the town of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack, near Damascus, Syria, Monday, April 16, 2018.

The rebels in the town surrendered the day after the alleged chemical attack, and Russian troops have since been overseeing an evacuation deal under which rebels and anti-government activists were bussed to rebel-held areas in northern Syria.

A team from the OPCW arrived in Syria shortly before the air strikes. It has met with Syrian officials but has not visited the town at the center of the controversy.

"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.

Jens Stoltenberg said the strikes were a "clear message" to Assad, Russia and Iran that the use of chemical weapons is not acceptable and that the allies would not stand idle.


But, MPs did not get to vote on whether they approved of the decision to attack Syria's chemical weapons facilities. The Kremlin said on Tuesday both Putin and Merkel support the OPCW mission and hope for a thorough probe.

"As far as I understand what is hampering a speedy resolution of this problem is the consequences of the illegal, unlawful military action that Great Britain and other countries conducted on Saturday", said Ryabkov. "China advocates a comprehensive, impartial and objective investigation into the suspected use of chemical weapons so as to reach a reliable conclusion that could withstand the test of time and facts", Hua said.

Kenneth Ward, the USA ambassador to the OPCW, raised these fears on Monday, drawing a denial from the Russian foreign minster, Sergei Lavrov, who told the BBC: "I can guarantee that Russia has not tampered with the site".

Assad stated that Syria would continue its independent development "despite the agenda, imposed by the West". The OPCW team does not have a mandate to assign blame for the attack.

The UN Security Council is due to be briefed on Tuesday, at the request of Russian Federation, on the situation in Syria's northern city of Raqqa, where Islamic State was defeated a year ago by US-backed forces, and the Rubkan camp for displaced Syrians near the country's border with Jordan and Iraq. As of March 2018, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that more than 500,000 people have been killed: The group estimates 353,900 deaths, including 106,000 civilians; 56,900 missing and presumed dead; and 100,000 undocumented deaths.

The joint US-French-British strike on three alleged chemical weapons facilities in the vicinity of Damascus and Homs were carried out, according to US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, in order to defend "vital American interests".


Jens Stoltenberg said the strikes were a "clear message" to Syrian President Bashar Assad, to Russian Federation and Iran that the use of chemical weapons is not acceptable and that the allies would not stand by and watch. He spoke in an interview with Turkey's NTV television.

On Sunday, Syria's state-run Al-Ikhbariya TV broadcast interviews with almost a dozen doctors and medics who said they found no trace of poison gas in Douma.

State TV broadcast the rally live from the central square, where protesters waved Syrian flags in a demonstration that was dubbed a "salute to the achievements of the Arab Syrian Army".

Shouts of "Allah, Syria, and only Bashar", a reference to Assad, rang out.

But there is still potential for the aggression to ramp up, particularly after Syria continued to strike rebel-held towns and Russian Federation warned of "chaos in worldwide relations". The move was part of a joint Russian-US deal that averted military action threatened by the then US president, Barack Obama. It said Syrian air defenses shot down most of the six missiles fired at the base.


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