A United Nations security team was sacked upon in the Syrian town of Douma this week while carrying out reconnaissance at the site of a suspected chemical attack, reported Reuters.
The inspectors met Syria’s deputy foreign minister in the presence of Russian officers and a senior Syrian security official; they were due to attempt to visit the Douma site.
The punitive strikes were launched before a fact-finding team was able to enter Douma, where the alleged April 7 chemical attack happened, and begin its field work.
Worldwide investigators yesterday entered a Syrian town hit by an alleged chemical attack, after days of delay and warnings by Western powers that crucial evidence had likely been removed.
Previously, Russia and Syria cited “pending security issues to be worked out” as the reason inspectors were initially denied access to the Douma site.
Journalists in Damascus were prevented by government minders from contacting the OPCW inspectors, and The Hague-based organization refused to comment on “operational details regarding the Douma deployment”.
A child receives oxygen through a respirator after an alleged poison gas attack April 8 in the rebel-held town of Douma near Damascus, Syria.
In retaliation for the suspected attack, the United Kingdom, alongside forces from the USA and France, launched missile strikes on three targets inside Syria.
The White House scrambled Monday to walk back U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s weekend announcement that new economic sanctions against Russian Federation are imminent, but stressed the penalties are still being considered.
The alleged gas attack, which Syrian activists say killed more than 40 people, prompted punitive U.S., British and French airstrikes.
The intervention threatened to escalate confrontation between the West and Russian Federation but has had no significant impact on the ground, where Assad is now in his strongest position since the war’s early days and shows no sign of slowing down his campaign to crush the rebellion.
Recovering the Yarmouk camp and neighboring areas south of the city would give Assad complete control over Syria’s capital.
Separately, the pro-government al-Watan newspaper reported on Thursday that Islamic State militants had been given 48 hours to agree to withdraw from an enclave centred around the Yarmouk camp for Palestinian refugee south of Damascus.
Most residents have fled the camp, once Syria’s largest for Palestinian refugees, but thousands of civilians are still inside.
Speaking to the BBC, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that Western powers had no plans for further missile strikes, though they would assess their options if Damascus used chemical weapons again.
Some reported having spoken to locals who said that the chemical attack had been staged, claiming there had been a conventional attack which produced a huge amount of dust. When regimes like the ones running Syria, Iran and North Korea make promises, they may not intend to keep them – but they should understand that there will be consequences if they don’t. “Therefore allegations of this towards Russian Federation are groundless”, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. But it said no missiles landed inside the bases.
“Last night, a false alarm that Syrian air space had been penetrated triggered the blowing of air defence sirens and the firing of several missiles”, a military source told state news agency SANA.”There was no external attack on Syria”, the source added.