OPCW inspectors to visit Douma

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Critics have complained that the strikes pre-empted the probe by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons into the alleged attack on April 7.

The US-led strikes did nothing to alter the strategic balance or dent Assad's supremacy, and the Western allies have said the aim was to prevent the further use of chemical weapons, not to intervene in the civil war or topple Assad.

"We consider such accusations against Russian Federation to be groundless", President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, adding that Moscow was in favour of "an impartial investigation".

"In the last two days, we have heard a group of jets flying over us in the area surrounding the Homs countryside", said Barakat, who lives near Khan Sheikhoun, where a previous chemical attack took place in 2017. The EU reiterated its condemnation of the use of chemical weapons on Syria, including the most recent reported attack, and said it supports the work of global chemical weapons investigators. The Kremlin said on Tuesday both Putin and Merkel support the OPCW mission and hope for a thorough probe.

He spoke at the European parliament on Tuesday, showing signs of anger and sometimes nearly shouting. "And now we see who really lags behind", Assad was cited as saying by MP Dmitry Sablin.

"We were happy in the beginning when we heard that President Trump was going to take action", says Suzanne Sahloul from the Syrian Action Network.

The director-general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons told a meeting of the OPCW executive council that inspectors had not been allowed to visit the town outside Damascus, the United Kingdom delegation tweeted.

On Friday, the U.S., France and the United Kingdom launched a series of airstrikes meant to cripple Syria's ability to manufacture chemical weapons, which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been using against his own people.

But it later admitted that it was a false alarm, not outside aggression, that triggered Syrian air defenses.

Sources: Human Rights Watch, OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism, UN Commission of Inquiry, OPCW Fact-finding Mission in Syria, United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria, Amnesty International, & Bellingcat.

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In the meeting with the Russians, Assad said that the strikes had demonstrated that Russian weapons were superior to US ones, according to the lawmakers.

"Russia and Syria have not yet allowed access to Douma", the British delegation said in a tweet on Sunday before adding that "unfettered access [is] essential".

UPDATE: President Trump has, reports The Washington Post, "put the brakes" on new sanctions against Russian Federation.

"The alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria can not be a justification for military airstrikes in a territory of a sovereign state without the authorisation of the UNSC".

"The European Union will continue to consider further restrictive measures against Syria as long as the repression continues", they said in a statement after their talks.

As the United States analyzes the outcome of its latest airstrikes, it must contemplate the question of how to finish the anti-Islamic State ground war while simultaneously winding down its own presence in the conflict and devising a mechanism to compel the Syrian regime to give up its chemical weapons.

According to initial reports, the strikes may have targeted Al-Sayrat airbase and rural Homs, as well as areas around Damascus.

Responsibility for the chemical attacks in Douma has been attributed to either Syrian rebels or al-Assad, depending on the source, but US intelligence agencies and USA ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley were not able to provide the results of its analysis of the chemical agents used in Douma prior to the airstrikes.

A Russian defence ministry official said later the OPCW experts would travel to Douma on Wednesday.

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