Chemical weapons inspectors in Damascus after US-led strikes on Syria


A man walks with his bicycle at a damaged site in the besieged town of Douma Thomson Reuters PARIS (Reuters) - France has concluded after analyzing "reliable intelligence" and open sources that a chemical attack on Douma on April 7 was carried out by Syrian government forces, a declassified intelligence report showed on Saturday. The group, which has been working with United Nations Department of Safety and Security, will continue the fact-finding mission.

Russian Federation has "strongly condemned" the Western missile strikes against Syria, slamming them as "a gross violation of the fundamental principles of global law, [and] an unjustified infringement of the sovereignty of the country". European Union foreign ministers threatened similar measures.

Syria and Russian Federation deny unleashing poison gas on April 7 during their offensive on Douma, which ended with the recapture of the town that had been the last rebel stronghold near the capital Damascus. According to the statement uploaded to the organization's website on April 8, chlorine bombs were dropped on the city to kill dozens and poison other local civilians who had to be brought to hospital. Footage of young victims foaming at the mouth and weeping in agony helped to thrust Syria's civil war - in which half a million people have been killed in the past seven years - to the forefront of world concern again.

Syria agreed to give up its chemical weapons arsenal in 2013 and submit to OPCW inspections. His comments at the closed-door meeting were obtained by Reuters.

Earlier, various official Russian agencies repeatedly warned that preparations had been underway in different parts of Syria for provocations and simulations of chemical attacks that would be blamed on government forces. "I can guarantee that Russian Federation has not tampered with the site", he told the BBC. "Unfettered access is essential", it said in a statement.

At least 40 people were killed in the Douma attack.

The team aims to collect samples, interview witnesses and document evidence to determine whether banned toxic munitions were used, although it is not permitted to assign blame for the attack. This was at the very beginning after this information (of the attack) appeared.

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 air defense systems intercepted 71 cruise missiles and air-surface missiles fired by the Western coalition, the Russian Defense Ministry said, adding that none of its own air defense units were involved in repelling the attack.