France says proof of poison gas attack likely disappearing in Douma
Apr 20 2018 by Lorena Waters
They arrived on Saturday but were blocked from going into the suburban area near Damascus by troops, with Syria blaming "security issues".
Earlier on Monday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the inspectors could not go to the site because they needed approval from the UN Department for Safety and Security.
With 11 days now having passed, concerns are growing that evidence could fall prey to tampering or be otherwise compromised. An OPCW spokesperson declined to disclose operational details to The National.
WEAPONS inspectors finally entered Douma yesterday to investigate the suspected chemical attack, according to Syrian state media.
The punitive attacks early on Saturday were launched before a fact-finding team from the OPCW was able to enter Douma and begin its fieldwork.
While the United States, France, and the United Kingdom all say the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad is to blame for the attack.
The US, France and the United Kingdom all say open source information and intelligence prove that the Syrian government was behind the attack.
"Chlorine will disperse quickly, and it wouldn't be surprising to find trace signs of chlorine in a domestic environment as it's used in cleaning products", Mr Higgins said.
United States officials have raised concerns that Russian Federation may have tampered with the site while inspectors were denied access.
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. As they spoke, government troops were nearby but out of earshot.
Journalists visiting Douma on a government-organized tour Monday did not report any security threats.
The suspected attack reportedly left more than 40 people dead. The Associated Press met with residents who said they were overwhelmed by chlorine fumes on the night of the alleged attack, and lost their loved ones.
Separately, the AP spoke to a medic who was among those who later were evacuated to northern Syria.
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said on Sunday that new sanctions on Russian Federation will be announced Monday.
He said the victims were buried in the city's east.
On chemical weapons, he paused for nearly a year after the US bombed a Syrian airfield in response to an attack with sarin gas last spring, but he clearly isn't troubled about committing atrocities against his own people. Others are claiming that ordering airstrikes against the Syrian government was illegal. ISIS also maintains a presence in three other neighborhoods adjacent to Yarmouk.
Ali Akbar Velayati, a top Iranian official, said during a visit to Damascus last week that he hoped the army would soon regain Idlib and areas of eastern Syria now held by an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias backed by Washington. The group is believed to be linked to militants and operates in the areas under their control.