Chemical weapons team kept from alleged attack site in Syria

Chemical weapons team kept from alleged attack site in Syria

The Russian ambassador to Ireland has said "as far as we can see, there was no attack in Syria" following Russia's probe into an alleged chemical attack.

"The United States and its allies have no proof and, without even waiting for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to take a position, have carried out this military attack. and are responsible for the regional consequences", said foreign ministry spokesperson Bahram Ghasemi.

Syria and its ally Russian Federation deny any chemical attack took place - with Russian Federation calling it a "staged thing".

France and the United States appeared to question the goal of such a mission.

The Pentagon denied any American military activity in the area on Tuesday.

What is happening in Syria?

A satellite image shows the Barzah Research and Development Center after being struck by USA and coalition operations in Damascus, Syria, April 14, 2018. A unusual smell lingered, nine days after the attack.

OPCW inspectors plan to gather soil and other samples to help identify any chemicals that might have been used.

The US envoy to the OPCW, however, expressed concern that Russian Federation had visited the site and "may have tampered with it" to impede the investigation.

The commander, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the issue had been dealt with by Russian experts.

Mr Lavrov and others have also criticised the three countries for carrying out the strikes before the OPCW team could conduct their investigation.

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Damascus and Moscow have vehemently denied that any chemical weapons were used in Douma and alleged instead that grim videos showing civilians foaming at the mouth after the attack were staged. But the inspectors had not initially been allowed to go to Douma, near the Syrian capital of Damascus, in an attempt to verify the nature of the suspected gas attack on April 7.

The reported attack led to Western airstrikes against the Syrian government over the weekend.

"For a new diplomatic initiative to work, the balance on the ground must be changed", said Nabeel Khoury, a former United States diplomat who is now a fellow at the Atlantic Council think-tank.

His Nationalist colleague, Stewart McDonald, the SNP's defence spokesman, seized on how certain Labour MPs had been invited to Downing Street for a private briefing on the Syria air strikes by Sir Mark Sedwill, the National Security Advisor.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has denounced the missile strikes by the US, France and the United Kingdom as an "act of aggression" that would exacerbate the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria.

As his speech came to a close, the first reports of explosions in Damascus began to emerge.

Putin reportedly stressed to Merkel that he believed the US, UK and France had broken global law and hampered the Syrian peace process.

"I have repeatedly expressed my deep disappointment that the Security Council failed to agree on a dedicated mechanism for effective accountability for the use of chemical weapons in Syria", he added.

"They were discussed, but it was chose to hold off for a little while", that official said.

Shayrat air base was targeted previous year in a USA cruise missile attack in response to a chemical attack that killed at least 70 people, including children, on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun.

Meanwhile MPs are to stage a second emergency debate in the space of 24 hours over Britain's role in missile strikes on Syria's chemical warfare facilities.

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