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Pentagon: Sarin likely at Syria sites, but questions remain

21 April 2018

The U.S., France and Britain carried out airstrikes against suspected chemical weapons facilities belonging to the Syrian government after concluding that Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces were behind the attack, though they have not made that evidence public.

Earlier this week, their visit to Douma was delayed after their United Nations security team came under fire at the location.

First it was Syrian soldiers, fanning out across the area after five years of rebel control.

Russian Federation is in charge of maintaining security in the area.

"We believe the absolute preponderance of the evidence is that there were chemical weapons" at the targeted sites, including "elements of sarin particularly" at the Barzah research and development centre in the Damascus area, said McKenzie, director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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Pierce said the United Kingdom can work with Russian Federation in the Security Council on issues like Somalia and Colombia which were on its agenda this week, "but on the biggest conflict issue of the day, Syria, they are proving very, very hard to work with".

Anti-Assad rebels hold a chunk of territory in the southwest and the northwest, and Kurdish-led militias, backed by the United States, control an expanse of northern and eastern Syria.

Grisly footage purportedly of the aftermath shocked the world, with harrowing testimony from medics of victims gasping for air and frothing at the mouth. But Bashar al-Assad is still in power, Russian Federation and Iran are still backing him, American-supported rebels are on the defensive, and peace talks through the United Nations are going nowhere. She said there are now no indications that Syria is preparing to use chemical weapons again.

US President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter on April 11 that Russian Federation should get ready for a missile attack on Syria, claiming the missiles will be "nice and new and smart". "As for our counterparts, we have only heard allegations about evidence, be it the alleged Douma incident or the Salisbury incident", Lavrov continued, the latter a reference to the attempted assassination of former spy Sergei Skripal with nerve agents in Britain.

The OPCW inspectors are in Syria but have been unable to visit Douma.

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Western ambassadors to the organisation accused the Syrian regime of obstructing the mission.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the obstruction is likely aimed at ensuring that proof of the attack disappears.

The remaining rebel factions in nearby eastern Qalamoun have also agreed to surrender without a fight due to threats of a military action by Syrian government forces.

The "White Helmets", a Syrian rescue force that works in opposition-held areas, said it was working closely with the inspectors.

According to the spokeswoman, these plans only "demonstrate the unwillingness to shed light on yet another staged provocation with the use of chemicals, which served as a reason for the missile strike" by the US, UK, and France.

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It raises concerns that Russian Federation may have tampered with evidence at the site where dozens of civilians were killed. Next came Russian military police, and then journalists traipsed through, examining the alleged blast sites and interviewing survivors.

Pentagon: Sarin likely at Syria sites, but questions remain