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Inspectors yet to enter Douma, US says

18 Avril 2018

The US-led military coalition which has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be terrorists' targets inside the Arab country since September 2014 has no authorization from the Damascus government or a United Nations mandate.

The US, UK and France could not "wait around" for an independent probe into the alleged chemical attack in Douma, and chose to bomb Syria based on reports and intelligence that cannot be revealed, the US State Department said. The military action has sparked sharp backlash against British Prime Minister Theresa May, who is being denounced for carrying out the airstrikes without parliamentary approval.

Later on Tuesday, Syrian media announced the experts had already arrived. It holds the Al Assad regime responsible for many of them.

Bashar Ja'afari said if the team decides "the situation is sound", the fact-finding mission from the worldwide chemical weapons watchdog - Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons - will start work there Wednesday.

She said there was evidence the Assad government was behind the chemical weapons attack in Douma and it was "legally right" to join the strikes.

The assault on eastern Ghouta began in February and ended in government victory on Saturday when rebels withdrew from the town, hours after the Western countries were finished with their air strikes on buildings they said were used to research or store chemical weapons and equipment.

The Syrian military later said a false alarm set off air defence systems early on Tuesday, retracting earlier reports of a pre-dawn "outside aggression" on its airfields in the central Homs region and a suburb of Damascus.

"These strikes don't necessarily resolve anything but I think they were important", he said.

Both Syria, which denies any chemical use, and Russian Federation, which provides military support to the Syrian government, have reacted angrily to the action.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed allegations that Russia was trying to hamper the OPCW inspectors, saying Moscow strongly supports their mission to Douma.

United States officials have raised concerns that Russian Federation may have tampered with the site while inspectors were denied access.

According to Hay, investigators will ideally want to talk to victims and doctors to get a picture of the symptoms they were experiencing after the attack and establish a timeline.

Later on April 17, however, SANA retracted the report, stressing there had been "no external attack" on Syria.

Assad has benefited from Russian air power since 2015 to regain large swathes of Syria, putting him in his strongest position since the early months of the seven-year-old war.

There was little discussion about a broader strategy for addressing the Syrian regime, or additional military or diplomatic efforts, they said. Israel did not confirm or deny it.

To recap, on April 14 night, the Syrian air defense forces intercepted 71 out of the 103 missiles launched on Syria by U.S., United Kingdom and France.

But in an interview for BBC's Hardtalk, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: "I can guarantee that Russia has not tampered with the site".

Haley said during an appearance on "Face the Nation" on Sunday that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin would be announcing new sanctions directed at companies associated with Syria's chemical weapons program.

Inspectors yet to enter Douma, US says