Despite Trilateral Attacks OPCW Will Continue Douma Chemical Weapons Investigation

16 April, 2018, 16:08 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Fighter jets were seen taking off from a British Royal Air Force base in Cyprus early on Saturday

In the Syrian capital, thousands of people gathered on the main Umayyad square to express their support for President Bashar al-Assad in the aftermath of the missile strikes. Representatives from the Russian Reconciliation Center for the Opposing Sides examined Douma on April 9, and found no trace of any use of chemical weapons there.

Before dawn on Saturday, a coalition of US, United Kingdom and French forces launched more than 100 missiles targeting three chemical facilities in Syria in retaliation for an apparent chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians on April 7.

On Friday night, the US, France and the United Kingdom launched coordinated strikes in Syria as President Donald Trump sought to "punish" his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad for a suspected chemical attack in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, that killed over 70 people.

The inspectors will face a hard task, with all key players having pre-empted their findings, including Western powers, which justified the strikes by claiming they already had proof such weapons were used.

Saturday's strikes came just hours before a team of experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arrived in Damascus.

Its team on the ground also faced the risk of arriving too late to a site where much of the evidence may have always been removed or tampered with. On Saturday, an OPCW expert group arrived in Syria to investigate the incident.

"We will ensure they can work professionally, objectively, impartially and free of any pressure", Assistant Foreign Minister Ayman Soussan told AFP.

Syrian government forces retook Douma last week, gaining full control over the former rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta, Russian military officials announced at the time.

Wresting back the opposition stronghold on the doorstep of Damascus had been a priority for the resurgent regime.

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Trump's "Mission Accomplished" tweet earned him parallels with George W. Bush's fatefully premature victory speech days after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

According to American officials, the operation involved three USA destroyers, a French frigate and a US submarine located in the Red Sea, the Gulf and the eastern Mediterranean.

British Tornado and Typhoon warplanes and French Rafale jets also took part in the strikes.

The Pentagon said no further action was planned but Washington's envoy to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, warned that the USA was "locked and loaded" should another gas attack occur.

As the on-the-ground investigation gets under way, the fallout from the US-led response continued to reverberate, with French President Emmanuel Macron claiming to have persuaded President Donald Trump to keep his troops in Syria.

Putin told his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, also an Assad ally, that any new Western strikes in Syria would provoke "chaos in global relations".

Those assertions have been denounced as lies by Western officials.

Like Barnes, many voiced concerns for the civilians affected by the air strikes in Syria.

The image below, released by the US Department of Defense, shows the damage up close. The Syrian government and its ally Russian Federation denied the allegations.

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