May 27, 2018

Chemical weapons team gathers more samples from Syrian town

29 April 2018, 04:23 | Simon Arnold

Alexander Shcherbak TASS

Alexander Shcherbak  TASS

The U.S., United Kingdom and France have launched over 100 missiles on what they have deemed to be chemical weapons facilities since April 14 in response to alleged chemical attacks by the Syrian government in Douma.

Russian Ambassador Alexander Shulgin said Thursday that Hassan's testimony suggested the attack may not have happened.

Mr Shulgin added "The truth will out".

Hassan said he was told to go to the hospital, adding: "We were in the basement and we heard people shouting that we needed to go to the hospital, so when we were in the hospital - we went there through the tunnels - at the hospital they started pouring water on me, cold water".

President Trump placed the blame squarely on Assad, shaming Russian Federation for supporting the strongman's regime amid allegations it used chemical weapons on its own people.

Of the USA missile strike in response, Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, director of the US military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told TIME reporters, "These are the best targets that presented the best opportunity to minimize collateral damage, to avoid killing innocent civilians and to send a very strong message".

"The OPCW is not a theatre", said the U.K.'s envoy Peter Wilson.

The ministry further noted that thousands of people could have died if there was any chemical weapon on the sites that were attacked by the US-led coalition. "The director general has opposed Russia's decision to host this briefing today".

"The FFM will continue to carry out its independent and impartial mission based on interviews with relevant people, its findings from the site visits, analysis of the sample results, as well as any other information and materials collected", it said.

One child, identified by Syrian government-provided translators as 11-year-old Hasan Diab from Ghouta, said he had been to a hospital after the attack.

Hamish de Bretton Gordon, a former commanding officer of the UK's Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) regiment, blasted Russia's use of Diab.

The OPCW does not assign blame for chemical attacks and there is now no mechanism that can do so after Russian Federation vetoed a resolution to extend the mandate of a United Nations-OPCW mission in November.

The United States, Britain, France and their allies boycotted the event on Thursday at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague, Netherlands, branding it as "nothing more than a crude propaganda exercise" and an "obscene masquerade".

"This. does not come as a surprise from the Syrian government, which has massacred and gassed its own people for the last seven years", he told Reuters.

According to CBC News, Douma was the final rebel-held suburb that the government had to seize in order to take back control of all the eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus.

The weeklong fighting in Hajar al-Aswad and the nearby Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk has killed dozens of people.

State news agency SANA said dozens of IS fighters were killed in battles in the southern Damascus neighborhood of Hajar al-Aswad during which ground forces closely coordinated with the air force in bombarding the area.

The OPCW investigators can only determine if the alleged chemical attack in Douma did take place but they do not have the authority to allocate responsibility of the alleged attack.

But Syria and Russian Federation have accused volunteer rescue workers operating in Syria's rebel-held territories, known as the White Helmets, of staging the footage.

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