Published: Fri, April 20, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Despite strikes, Syria's Assad can still wage chemical attacks - U.S. sources

Despite strikes, Syria's Assad can still wage chemical attacks - U.S. sources

At the meeting, the fifth in a week on chemical weapons in Syria, Russia and its supporters again clashed with the U.S. and its allies over a suspected poison gas attack on April 7 in the Damascus suburb of Douma.

A fact-finding mission from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is due to visit the site of the suspected gas attack.

The reported strike comes days after the US, UK and France bombed Syrian military facilities over a suspected gas attack in Douma.

A group of United Nations security personnel that visited Duma to assess the situation in the town ahead of the work of OPCW experts came under fire from militants on Wednesday.

Russian Federation and the Syrian government deny responsibility for the alleged attack.

" 'We've had over a week now where people, lots of different people, we don't know who may have traipsed in and out of that, ' he says".

The 15-member council met for the sixth time in the past nine days on Syria as Russian Federation and Western powers face off over a suspected chemical weapons attack in Douma that sparked air strikes by the United States, France and Britain.

On Saturday, a volley of American, British, and French missiles slammed Syrian military positions in Homs province and around Damascus. A unusual smell lingered, nine days after the attack.

OPCW chief Ahmet Uzumcu earlier briefed ambassadors in The Hague on the incident and said the team required "unhindered access to the sites" to carry out its work.

Douma was the last rebel hold-out in the eastern Ghouta enclave, which was the target of a government offensive in February and March which killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands of people. US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council "there is clear information demonstrating Assad's culpability".

But US officials familiar with US military planning said Russian Federation and Iran were never seriously considered as targets.

Al-Ikhbariya TV says the fighters from the Army of Islam rebel group and their families have begun evacuating the town of Dumayr, bound for opposition-held areas in the north as part of the agreement.

But the assessment also indicated that a large quantity of the chemical weapons was stored elsewhere and that Syria's chemical weapons programme, while crude, "is about as good as it needs to be for Assad's purposes", another official said. Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday the US did not believe the inspectors had entered Douma, and that the evidence is at risk of decaying as delays drag on.

The inquiry found the Syrian government used the nerve agent sarin and had several times used chlorine as a weapon.

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