Chemical weapons inspectors still delayed in Syria

A Bahraini forensic police officer inspects the site of a bomb blast in the village of Sitra south of Manama in 2017

A Bahraini forensic police officer inspects the site of a bomb blast in the village of Sitra south of Manama in 2017

Speaking at an emergency session of the OPCW at its headquarters in The Hague, Ahmet Uzumcu said the team had deployed to Douma to carry out a security assessment of the area ahead of the inspectors' visit.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesday the measures are needed in view of the small arms fire and explosive device detonated during a visit by the United Nations advance team Tuesday.

He also said that the U.S., British, and French air strikes last week destroyed three targets tied to Syria's weapons program, including a large research center in Damascus.

Syria's United Nations ambassador said the fact-finding mission would begin its work in Douma on Wednesday if the United Nations security team deemed the situation there safe.

"The longer that those sites are not able to be investigated by the OPCW fact finding mission experts, the more that the evidence can certainly deteriorate and that's a great concern to us".

On Wednesday, Al-Jazeera slammed Syrian state media for misleading reports that suggested the OPCW inspectors had entered Douma and commenced their examination of the chemical attack sites, rather than being compelled to abandon their mission and return to safety.

A Pentagon official on Thursday said the Syrian government still has limited ability to launch a future chemical weapons attack, even after the USA and its allies struck three of the country's chemical facilities.

Relations between Russian Federation and the Western allies that launched co-ordination strikes on Syria in response to the suspected chemical attack have deteriorated in recent days.

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Moscow said the video supports its allegation that an alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma was a hoax. The Associated Press met with residents who said they were overwhelmed by chlorine fumes on the night of the alleged attack, and lost their loved ones.

But U.S. officials familiar with U.S. military planning said Russian Federation and Iran were never seriously considered as targets.

The attack, carried out in response to what the USA and its allies insisted was a chemical attack by the Syrian government, saw 105 cruise missiles being fired at targets in Damascus and Homs.

Al-Ikhbariya TV showed footage of residents welcoming security forces into Dumayr after the last busload of Army of Islam rebels and their family members left to Jarablus, a town in north Syria.

Security concerns were still keeping worldwide experts from inspecting the site of a suspected chemical attack in Syria on Thursday.

Western countries say scores of people were gassed to death in the attack.

For example, chlorine, which the United States assesses was used in the April 7 attack, is a common industrial chemical that is not hard to find or weaponize, experts say.

OPCW inspectors arrived in Syria on April 14 to collect samples to either confirm or dismiss reports on the chemical attack. The Russian military said a Syrian security employee was slightly wounded in the crossfire Tuesday, but no Russian servicemen were at the site of the attack.

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