Russia: Chemical weapons experts head to Syrian city

The USS Ross fires a tomahawk land attack missile of the type fired at Syria earlier this month

The USS Ross fires a tomahawk land attack missile of the type fired at Syria earlier this month

Meanwhile, the Russian foreign ministry dismissed reports about the alleged chemical attack in Syria as fake news.

The US, France, and Britain blamed the Syrian government for the attack, and struck suspected Syrian chemical weapons facilities one week later.

A United Nations security team touring Douma on Tuesday came under small arms and explosives fire, leading the OPCW to postpone its visit.

He added he would only consider deploying the team to Douma with UNDSS approval and if the inspectors had "unhindered access to the sites".

This week, the director of the largest medical relief agency working on Syria, the Union of Medical care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM) said that doctors who treated patients in Douma were intimidated and threatened by agents of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, including threats of violence to their families if they tell global inspectors what they have seen.

The Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta has been under siege for the last five years.

Russian Federation has been accused of preventing inspectors reaching the site where 75 people were thought to have died in the rebel-held town of Douma exactly two weeks ago. Video footage and eyewitness testimonies suggest that some of the victims died foaming at the mouth, a symptom that could indicate exposure to a nerve agent.

But rather than head straight for the site, the OPCW team was forced to sit in Damascus for much of the past week, leading the United States and France to accuse Syria and its Russian allies of attempting to delay the inspection as they sanitized the alleged blast sites.

But the single volley of air strikes, hitting three targets far from any frontline, had no effect on the wider war which has killed 500,000 people and made more than half of Syrians homeless.

The OPCW was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for its efforts to destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpile.

The residents noted that these doctors were later questioned by security officials, and several individuals, who indicated that they had those exchanges described to them, said that the doctors had been pressured into publicly denying that an attack had taken place.

Bolton told Antonov it was in the interest of both countries to have better relations, but Russia must address allegations that Moscow interfered in the 2016 US election and poisoned a former Russian spy in Britain, the statement said.

Western ambassadors to the organisation accused the Syrian regime of obstructing the mission.

The obstruction is likely aimed at ensuring that proof of the attack disappears, he said, adding that the OPCW must have full, immediate and unimpeded access to the site.

Syrian government forces will take over the towns once the departures are complete.

The "White Helmets", a Syrian rescue force that works in opposition-held areas, said it was working closely with the inspectors.

We must remember the context of these attacks.

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday reiterated an independent worldwide mechanism be formed to attribute responsibility to the perpetrators of attacks such as the one in Syria's Douma.

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