France says Russian Federation obstructing OPCW experts' access to site of Douma attack

Senators leave classified briefing on Trump’s Syria policy ‘very unnerved

Senators leave classified briefing on Trump’s Syria policy ‘very unnerved

A visit by chemical weapons inspectors to the site of a suspected gas attack in Syria was delayed on April 16, British and Russian officials said, as Western powers and Russia traded accusations in the aftermath of retaliatory US -led missile strikes.

OPCW director-general Ahmet Uzumcu said the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) had made a decision to carry out reconnaissance at two sites in the town of Douma before the inspectors would visit them.

Syria's United Nations ambassador said on Tuesday the fact-finding mission would begin its work in Douma on Wednesday if the United Nations security team deemed the situation there safe.

The Russian government this week blamed Syrian rebels for the delay, only days after saying the area was in the full control of the Syrian military and was being patrolled by Russian military police.

The organization was one of those, along with the controversial White Helmets, which claimed that the Syrian government was behind the alleged chemical attack in the city on April 7.

Then the pressure increased.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday that President Trump indicated he could visit Moscow if Russian leader Vladimir Putin comes to the United States. The Syrian government and its Russian ally deny involvement in any such incident.

Sergey Lavrov noted that despite the escalating tensions between Moscow and Washington, the USA made sure it did not harm any Russian personnel and positions during the strikes against the regime of President Bashar Assad following a suspected chemical attack on the town of Douma.

The response came after the USA media cited military and administration sources as saying that Mattis had urged Trump to seek Congressional approval before punishing Syria for alleged use of chemical weapons, Xinhua reported.

"It could also still be stuck in the walls or on nearby rocks, as long as there was no attempt to try and remove them", he said. Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said there was no indication the Assad regime was preparing to launch another chemical weapons attack.

Responding to Haley's remarks, Evgeny Serebrennikov, deputy head of a Russian parliamentary defence committee, said Moscow was ready for the penalties.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, which fights alongside the Syrian army, said the US military had kept its strikes limited because it knew a wider attack would bring retaliation from Damascus and its allies and inflame the region.

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