Russian Federation clashes again with United States and allies over Syria attacks

Russian Federation clashes again with United States and allies over Syria attacks

United Nations security experts have said they were negotiating with Syrian and Russian authorities for global chemical inspectors to deploy to the site of an alleged toxic gas attack in Douma near Damascus, after a reconnaissance mission came under fire, AFP reported.

The U.N. security team entered Douma to assess the situation ahead of the planned visit by inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) global watchdog, said the sources, who had been briefed on the team's deployment.

Russian and Syrian control of the site has raised concerns, and on Tuesday, the French foreign ministry said it is "very likely" that evidence could "disappear" from the site of the alleged attack as OPCW inspectors still have not made it to the site.

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. Russia's military said Tuesday it had uncovered a chemical weapons stockpile left behind by the rebels in Douma. The organization said inspectors will enter the site once it's been cleared by the U.N. Department of Safety and Security. At the first site, the United Nations team and the Russian military escort "encountered a large peaceful demonstration" while at the second location "there was an explosion followed by small-arms fire directed at UNDSS team and the Russian military police", said the report.

The OPCW said the team will continue to work with Syria's National Authority, local councils in Douma and Russian Military Police to review the security situation.

The reported attack led to Western airstrikes against the Syrian government over the weekend.

The experts from the OPCW chemical watchdog were awaiting the green light from the security team before beginning their on-site investigation in Douma of the alleged attack.

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Kelly Currie, the deputy USA ambassador for economic and social affairs, described Russia's call as an attempt to deter focus away from the "atrocities" committed by the Syrian government.

Determining whether such weapons were used in Douma could help resolve a standoff between the United States and its allies on one side and the Syrian government and its allies on the other.

Finally, he called on opposition groups "to immediately refrain from provoking foreign aggression by organizing provocations with chemical weapons". Western diplomats and weapons experts have underlined that time is of the essence if inspectors are going to figure out exactly what took place. The Syrian military would then enter the town.

Fighters from the Army of Islam and their families were to leave the town of Dumayr as part of the arrangement, the state-affiliated al-Ikhbariya TV station said.

Worldwide chemical weapons inspectors do not appear to have visited the site of a suspected attack in Syria after days of delays by Syrian and Russian authorities. But U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has warned the delay in the OPCW team's arrival presents a risk that evidence is being tampered with.

But on Wednesday, OPCW said that's not what happened.

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