Watchdog inspectors pay second visit to 'chemical attack' site

26 April, 2018, 12:33 | Author: Keith Rowe
  • Free Syrian Army fighters prepare mortar shells during clashes with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al Assad in the Handarat area north of Aleppo

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said its fact-finding mission had collected samples from the location, which it did not identify. An earlier visit took place on Saturday after the inspectors were delayed for days from getting to the town, just east of, over security reasons.

The Israeli strike was reportedly coordinated with the USA but not with Russian Federation, despite the two countries having established a military hotline meant to avoid conflicts of interest and clashes in Syria operations.

The OPSW visit to Douma and sample collection would allow the global watchdog to proceed with an independent investigation to determine what chemicals, if any, were used in the attack.

It is highly unlikely Assad used chemical weapons, because using chemical weapons only guarantees military intervention by the United States.

The Syrian government has repeatedly blamed the rebels and opposition activists for possessing and deploying chemical weapons.

Pahon said Russian Federation has yet to produce credible photographic evidence of downed Tomahawk missiles in Syria.

CBS evening news' April 12 headline was United States "looking for actual evidence" of Syria chemical attack.

Justin Bronk, an air combat expert at the Royal United Services Institute, said he doubted Russia's claims, and that the remarks were "probably just posturing in this case to try and embarrass the U.S.".

Despite U.S. sanctions, Putin and Russian arms firms have increasingly pushed worldwide sales of the S-300 and S-400 systems.

Russia's Defense Ministry announced Wednesday that the planned delivery of an S-300 air defense system to Syria will be completed in the "near future", They did not provide an exact date, though Russian Federation is interested in shoring up Syria's air defense capability.

Defense analysts have questioned whether an S-300 system in Syrian hands could threaten Israel's air power in the region and prevent it from being able to conduct strikes against targets in Syria.

Syria will receive new missile defense systems in the near future and Russian experts will teach Syrians to use them, Head of the Main Operations Department at Russia's General Staff Colonel General Sergei Rudskoi said at a briefing on Wednesday. The organization cannot determine which party was responsible for chemical use, and can only say whether they were or were not used.

Israel has not taken sides in the Syrian civil war, but its air force has carried out dozens of air strikes during the fighting, a lot of them believed to have been aimed at suspected arms shipments to Hizballah militias allied with Iran. Iran is also a staunch supporter of Assad.

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he wants to withdraw American troops from Syria "relatively soon" but not before their mission is completed, adding that negotiations over the crisis there should be part of a larger deal regarding Iran.

The Islamic Republic has threatened to punish Israel over the airstrikes on the Iranian airbase in Syria this month, Iran's semi-official FARS news agency reported on April 16. "Staffing anti-aircraft firepower of the Russian airbase, all air targets were destroyed", - said the source RIA Novosti in Hamima.

Lieberman told Ynet that Russian Federation already has air-defense systems in Syria.



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