Weapons inspectors plan to head to Syria's Douma hours after strikes

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Downing Street to make a statement to MPs in the House of Commons in London Monday

Russian Federation immediately denied the British allegations and said the OPCW visit to Douma had been delayed because of the Western airstrikes against the Syrian regime early Saturday morning.

In April past year, Shayrat airbase was targeted by US Tomahawk cruise missiles in a strike ordered by President Donald Trump in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhun in Idlib in north-western Syria.

The OPCW said on Monday that Russian and Syrian officials denied its inspectors access to the site, citing "pending security issues".

The United States, Britain, and France launched more than 100 missiles, targeting three alleged chemical-weapons facilities on April 14.

Douma is the largest town of the suburbs known as eastern Ghouta and its capture marks the biggest victory for President Bashar Assad's forces since the conflict began seven years ago.

"The team has not yet deployed to Douma", Ahmet Uzumcu, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said on April 16.

At least 40 people are believed to have died on 7 April in Douma, which until Saturday was the last rebel-held town near the capital and the target of a government offensive in February and March that killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands. There's no evidence of tampering of any kind.

France, the United States and Britain circulated a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council late on Saturday that aims to establish a new independent inquiry into who is to responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

A man rides past destruction in the town of Douma the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack near Damascus Syria Monday
Weapons inspectors plan to head to Syria's Douma hours after strikes

Russia's foreign minister told the BBC that "Russia has not tampered with the site".

It said no deaths from mechanical injuries were visible and all symptoms were characteristic of a chemical weapons attack, particularly choking agents and organophosphorus agents or hydrocyanic acid.

Syrian state media made no mention of the strike on Dumair.

Meanwhile, the Syrian army announced that the Eastern Ghouta region, where Douma is situated, has been cleared of the last rebel fighters and has been fully retaken.

The OPCW will determine whether chemical weapons were used, but will not assign blame.

Even though the OPCW team was not allowed in, the Syrian authorities organised a tour of the town for the foreign press, including AFP. "Suffocation cases arrived as a result of the debris, dust, fire and smoke".

Damascus and Moscow have vehemently denied that any chemical weapons were used in Douma and alleged instead that grim videos showing civilians foaming at the mouth after the attack was staged.

But "strangers entered as we were in a state of chaos and spread a rumour among people there had been a chemical attack, and people became alarmed".

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