June 22, 2018

OPCW: Inspectors unable to begin probe

21 April 2018, 09:58 | Simon Arnold

Image A UN vehicle carrying OPCW inspectors in the Syrian capital of Damascus

A UN vehicle carrying OPCW inspectors in the Syrian capital of Damascus

US military strikes on Syria last week removed any moral obligation Russia had to withhold S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems from its ally Bashar Assad, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday, according to RIA state news agency.

Russian Federation and Syria have been accused by western diplomats of preventing representatives of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons from accessing the site to try to establish the facts of what happened.

The OPCW team arrived in Damascus over the weekend but have not been able to travel to Douma, near the capital, to investigate the alleged chemical attack.

The conclusion contrasts with the Trump administration's assertion that the strikes on Saturday hit at the heart of Assad's chemical weapons program, language suggesting that Assad's ability to stage more attacks had been dealt a devastating blow.

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has been accused of using chemical weapons, including sarin, against his citizens. Mattis, who warned that an escalation with Syrian-allied Russia could spark a wider war, successfully convinced Trump to limit the strikes to three, two-minute low-profile 105 missile midnight strikes on suspected chemical weapons production facilities, in an effort to save face while avoiding casualties to Russian troops embedded with Syrian forces. Belief that Syria was an enemy of the United States rose at the time of last year's April missile strike against a Syrian military base (also in response to the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons).

And US State Department spokesman Heather Nauert told reporters today: "We have credible information that indicates that Russian officials are working with the Syrian regime to deny and to delay these inspectors from gaining access to Douma".

U.S. Col. Ryan Dillon says the Syrian Democratic Forces captured Mohammed Haydar Zammar in northeast Syria roughly four weeks ago.

Then on Tuesday, the advance security team from the United Nations came under fire, compounding the delays.

The Kurdish-led SDF have been of the U.S.'s most trusted allies in Syria in its war on the Islamic State group.

Jarablus is shared between Turkish and Syrian opposition control. The use of chemical weapons against civilians is illegal under worldwide law, particularly the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Journalists visiting Douma on a government-organized tour Monday did not report any security threats. Colorful charts were used at a briefing in Moscow to demonstrate how effective the Russian-organized Syrian defenses were.

In an interview with the state-run Rossiya Segodnya news agency, he also alleged that the humanitarian organisation the White Helmets falsified videos showing people suffering the after-effects of the gas attack in the Syrian city.

Russian Federation is in charge of maintaining security in the area. The report says 1,500 rebels and 3,500 of their next of kin are to leave Dumayr for the town of Jarablus, near the Turkish border.

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