Chemical Weapons Experts Enter Douma

The Damascus sky lights up missile fire as the US launches an attack on Syria targeting different parts of the capital early Saturday

The U.S. State Department has accused the Syrian government and its ally Russian Federation of trying to cover up the alleged April 7 attack.

"In order to do that, Russian Federation has asked this council to focus its attention on the one part of Syria where the Assad regime isn't pummeling civilians to death with barrel bombs or banned chemical weapons", she said. It led to the rebel group that controlled Douma agreeing to surrender control of the town to the Syrian government.

"Cleaning up a site after a chemical attack to the point where no traces of the agent or of characteristic degradation products can be found is hard, in particular when the impact site was a building".

Yet, a report on state news agency SANA that Syrian air defenses had shot down missiles over Homs province overnight raised fears that further action had indeed been taken.

Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied the claims, saying the OPCW needed United Nations permission before anyone could travel to the area.

The U.S., which has drawn its own conclusions about the attack on Douma, has accused the Syrian government and Russian Federation of trying to cover up evidence of their culpability. Syria, Iran and Russian Federation blamed Israel for that attack.

The three countries did not make their evidence public, and both the Syrian government and its ally Russian Federation have denied any chemical attack took place.

The fact-finding mission from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to the Syrian town of Douma was put on hold after the United Nations security team was sacked at during a reconnaissance tour on Tuesday.

McKenzie said that plume analysis from the allies' missile strikes and the lack of civilian casualties in the area suggest that no chemical gas escaped into the atmosphere during the strikes that hit their targets early Saturday (Syrian time). Israel did not confirm or deny it.

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"Investigating culpability for chemical weapons use is not a question of ability, but rather of authorization.The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission is tasked only with investigating if an alleged chemical weapons attack took place and if so, what kind of chemical weapon was used", said Alicia Sanders-Zakre, policy and programs research assistant at the Arms Control Association.

Global investigators on Tuesday entered a Syrian town hit by an alleged chemical attack, after days of delay and warnings by Western powers that crucial evidence had likely been removed.

He commended the OPCW for its prompt deployment of the Fact Finding Mission to Douma and expressed appreciation to the Director General and OPCW staff for their commitment to the aims and work of the organization often in challenging circumstances.

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.

An Associated Press team visited the site on a Syrian government-organized tour Monday, including a two-room underground shelter where one resident said 47 people were killed, including his pregnant wife and two young daughters.

Given that 11 days have passed since the attack, some chemicals might be harder to trace. At least 40 people are believed to have been killed in the attack. These might include suffocating, foaming at the mouth, constricted pupils, convulsions and involuntary urination or defecation.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will be granted access to the site of the suspected April 7 chemical weapons attack in Douma, according to Igor Kirillov, the head of Russia's radiological, biological, and chemical protection unit.

[T] he United States could have sent far more powerful messages to the Syrian government's key military and intelligence power nodes of the risks they run to their own survival through mindless obedience to Assad's genocidal criminality.

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