Syrian chemical attack probe delayed again by Douma gunfire

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The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will be granted access to the site of the suspected April 7 chemical weapons attack in Douma, according to Igor Kirillov, the head of Russia's radiological, biological, and chemical protection unit.

Only hours later, Syrian TV carried a military statement saying that air defenses fired a number of missiles because of a "false alarm", without providing more information.

Among the contentious proposals, the draft resolution would establish an independent investigation of allegations of toxic gas attacks in Syria with the aim of identifying the perpetrators.

"They bombed and bombed and we weren't defeated by conventional weapons so they found the only way was to use chemical (weapons)", a rebel told Reuters.

A United Nations security team working with worldwide chemical weapons inspectors has been targeted by gunfire and a small explosion in the Syrian town of Douma.

A Syrian refugee is thanking President Trump after a US -led coalition launched airstrikes in Syria to punish the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad for a suspected chemical weapons attack on civilians.

"The Syrian regime has reportedly been attempting to hide the evidence by searching evacuees from Douma to ensure samples are not being smuggled from this area, and a wider operation to hide the facts of the attack is under way, supported by the Russians", she said.

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The Syrian "White Helmets" rescue organization, which operates largely in rebel-held areas, said on Wednesday that it had pinpointed for global inspectors the places where the victims of the chemical attack are buried, its head Raed Saleh said on Wednesday. Residents described the attack to the news agency as involving chlorine gas, but assigned blame for the attack to rebels who have now withdrawn from the area.

They would join tens of thousands who have been transferred in recent weeks from rebel-held areas around Damascus to areas in northern Syria controlled by rebel groups.

Chemical weapons inspectors will only deploy to the Syrian town of Douma if they are given unhindered access, the OPCW chief said Wednesday, adding it was unknown when the team would go. Shayrat air base was targeted by US Tomahawk missiles in April a year ago in a strike ordered by President Donald Trump in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib. Israel did not confirm or deny it.

OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu told a closed-door meeting of his organization that it remains unclear when the team will be able to deploy to Douma, U.K. Ambassador Peter Wilson told reporters in The Hague. As they spoke, government troops were not far away but out of earshot. At least 40 people are believed to have been killed in the attack. He said he tried to enter the shelter but was overcome by a strong smell of chlorine and his comrades pulled him out.

Russian Federation has used its veto 12 times at the Security Council to block action targeting its Syrian ally. The town has been besieged as the government has been fighting to oust rebels from the greater eastern Ghouta region, just outside the capital of Damascus. The team arrived in Syria on Saturday.

"By working together, in a coordinated fashion, we can definitively prevent the Syrian regime from carrying out chemical attacks against its own people", Macron said on Twitter. It was thrown out altogether when Russia - Assad's ally - offered to dispose of Assad's chemical-weapons arsenal if the USA refrained from launching airstrikes.

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