OPCW experts to reach Syria's Douma on April 18 - Russian defense ministry

OPCW experts to reach Syria's Douma on April 18 - Russian defense ministry

Inspectors from the global chemical weapons watchdog have been unable to access sites controlled by Russian Federation and the Syrian regime in the town of Douma to investigate an attack on 7 April that killed dozens and prompted US-led missile strikes on Friday night.

The OPCW team has so far held meetings with Syrian officials but is not believed to have started field work in Douma, where holdout rebels surrendered their weapons and agreed to leave after the alleged attack.

"It is our understanding the Russians may have visited the attack site", US Ambassador Kenneth Ward said at an OPCW meeting in The Hague on Monday.

Earlier, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov suggested that the inspectors' visit to the site had been delayed as a result of the Western air strikes.

Britain's Ambassador Peter Wilson said in The Hague that the United Nations had cleared the inspectors to go but they had been unable to reach Douma because Syria and Russian Federation had been unable to guarantee their safety.

"We called for an objective investigation".

Separately, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the BBC, "I can guarantee that Russian Federation has not tampered with the site". "Therefore, allegations of this kind against Russian Federation are groundless", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

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The attack on the buses came shortly after the United States, France and Britain struck regime sites in Syria in response to an alleged deadly regime chemical attack on the town of Douma on April 7.

"Syria reiterated its full readiness to coordinate and to facilitate the delegation's work", he was quoted as saying by the official state agency SANA.

"I'm afraid the Syrian war will go on in its terrible, miserable way". It is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997 and aims to eradicate chemical weapons worldwide. "The erosion of that taboo that has been in place for a hundred years has gone too far under Bashar al-Assad and it was time that we said "no" and it was totally, therefore, the right thing to do".

The OPCW's fact-finding mission (FFM) was set up in 2014 "to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic".

The United States, Britain and France carried out a wave of strikes against the Syrian regime on Saturday a week after the suspected deadly gas attack on the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma, in which 40 people were said to have been killed.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on April 15 that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would announce the new sanctions on April 16.

The targeted sites were largely empty but US President Donald Trump hailed a "perfectly executed" operation. "I think everyone knows that we sent a strong message, and our hope is that they listen to it".

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