Chemical inspectors launch probe in Syria after Western strikes

Chemical inspectors launch probe in Syria after Western strikes

What is happening in Douma?

The attack killed at least 40 people and wounded or sickened hundreds of others.

The UN security council will meet on Monday to discuss the call for a wider push to eliminate the covert Syrian government stockpiles, placing pressure on Russian Federation to stop protecting the Assad regime from a UN inquiry into its use of chemical weapons.

Russian military police were ready to help protect the OPCW experts on their visit to Douma, said Major General Yuri Yevtushenko of the Russian military's Reconciliation Centre in Syria.

United States envoy to the OPCW, Kenneth Ward, said: "It is our understanding the Russians may have visited the attack site".

The OPCW will not seek to establish - and publicly announce - who was responsible for the attack.

"None of our aircraft or missiles involved in this operation were successfully engaged by Syrian air defenses, and we have no indication that Russian air-defense systems were employed", he said.

Will there be more Western attacks?

The inspectors will face a hard task, with all key players having pre-empted their findings, including Western powers, which justified the strikes by claiming they already had proof such weapons were used.

Kori Schake, deputy director-general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told NPR's Morning Edition on Monday that "this is a problem that you're going to have to keep paying attention to, because every time Bashar al-Assad needs a battlefield victory that he can't achieve by conventional forces, he employs chemical weapons to terrorize the rebels into submission".

"Seventy-five people, including young children, were killed in a horrific chemical attack", said May, calling the attack "a stain on our humanity".

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) said the success of the missile attacks depended on whether Syria stopped using chemical weapons.

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Speaking to United States media yesterday, Ms Haley defended the air strikes, warning that if action had not been taken, the USA could also become a target of chemical attacks.

A Western draft resolution obtained by AFP at a meeting of the UN Security Council Saturday calls for unimpeded deliveries of humanitarian aid and enforcement of a ceasefire, along with demands that Syria engage in UN-led peace talks.

Trump discussed three military options for Syria last week with his revamped national security team, led by Bush-era hawk John Bolton, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday, citing sources familiar with White House decision-making.

Only China and Bolivia voted alongside Russian Federation in favour of its draft resolution condemning the military action, while eight countries opposed it.

The West has accused Syria of failing to live up to its commitment to scrap its chemical weapons programme under a deal reached between the United States and Russian Federation.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs also was targeted and was believed to be the main site of Syrian sarin production equipment.

Similar previous plans have been vetoed by Russian Federation.

Mr Trump already made clear his commitment to further hit Syria, should Mr Assad attempt to use chemical weapons again.

Military strikes hit three targets: a warfare technology center and two chemical weapons facilities.

Britain is bracing for the possibility of Russian retaliation in the wake of Saturday's airstrikes on alleged chemical weapons sites in Syria.

Russia's military said Syrian air defense units downed 71 of the missiles. More than 100 Russian diplomats were expelled from more than 20 countries in March over the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy on British soil, which the United Kingdom and USA has blamed on the Russian government.

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