United Nations says more security needed at Douma site in Syria

A United Nations team is discussing security arrangements with Syrian and Russian authorities in Douma to allow experts to deploy soon to investigate an alleged chemical weapons attack, United Nations security officials said on Wednesday. The Syrian military would then resume control.

The Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, said that the idea of establishing a mechanism to determine responsibility for the use of chemical weapons is "futile" since Washington and its allies already identified who the "culprits" are behind the gas attacks, referencing the US-led attack on Syria.

Also, it's worth noting that no matter which party is found to have been blamed for the deaths in Douma, that so far, neither sanctions nor missile strikes have prevented the use of chemical weapons in the war.

The "mission has not been accomplished", said Suzanne Akhras, president of the Syrian Community Network.

Syrian regime helicopters allegedly dropped barrels bombs in the town in a bid to flush out any remaining rebels.

The alleged attack and subsequent military response underscored the challenge that the seven-year conflict in Syria poses for the West. President Donald Trump wants to remove USA troops from Syria, where it has been fighting the Islamic State militants.

The US, France and the United Kingdom all say open source information and intelligence prove that the Syrian government was behind the attack.

The move signalled the West's resolve to return to diplomacy after a one-night military operation that hit sites Western officials said were linked to Syria's chemical weapons program.

The OPCW inspectors will investigate if chemical weapons were actually used in Douma.

Investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will be granted access this week to the site of a suspected chemical attack in Syria, Russian officials said.

Unlike the strike in April 2017, the U.S. and its allies did not target Assad's jets or airfields, though that attack was also apparently of low impact, as Assad's jets took off from the damaged airfield within 24 hours and reports of chemical warfare by his regime persisted.

In theory, if you wanted to clean up a chemical attack site, the first thing to do would be to locate and remove any debris from the munitions, Mr de Bretton-Gordon said.

Haley also said the response by the Trump administration was "cumulative", taking into account not only the recent chemical weapons attack in Douma, but also other, smaller, attacks. It gave no other details on the intelligence.

Former Douma residents now in northern Syria told The National anyone still in Douma was likely unable to speak freely for fear of retribution from the government.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said she was aware of reports from Syria that inspectors from the OPCW had been able to see the town but "our understanding is that the team has not entered Douma".

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.

Chemical experts have told Sky News that a successful investigation by the OPCW is made harder as more time passes.

Unlike the OPCW, the JIM had the power to assign blame. Russian Federation and Assad's government deny this. "Neither blood nor urine samples are helpful if it's an irritant like chlorine, but they're very helpful if the likes of sarin had been used", Hay explained. The Security Council is deadlocked over how to replace it. Eleven days have now passed since the incident with no independent inspection.

The U.S., United Kingdom and France launched missile strikes on a number of targets in Syria on Saturday in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Damascus' suburb of Duma.

  • Leroy Wright