Chemical weapons watchdog not sure when inspectors can go to Douma, Syria


United Nations security experts have said they were negotiating with Syrian and Russian authorities for global chemical inspectors to deploy to the site of an alleged toxic gas attack near Damascus, after a reconnaissance mission came under fire.

The reported toxic gas attack on Douma on April 7 sparked joint missile strikes by the United States, France and Britain on Syrian military installations.

The Syrian state news agency earlier reported that the global team of experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had entered Douma to begin their investigation of whether chemical agents were used as a weapon.

The Syrian government and Russian sympathizers have denied allegations that a chemical attack took place, with the latter even accusing Britain of staging the gas attack.

Russian military police are understood to have escorted the United Nations team to Douma but at the first of two areas visited they were confronted by a large crowd and made a decision to move on.

But on Wednesday, OPCW said that's not what happened.

"On arrival at site one, a large crowd gathered and the advice provided by the UNDSS was that the reconnaissance team should withdraw", he told a meeting at the watchdog's headquarters in remarks it later released.

"The UNDSS (the UN security team) will continue to work with the Syrian National Authority, the local councils in Douma, and the Russian Military Police to review the security situation".

After the recapture of eastern Ghouta, Assad still has several smaller pockets of ground to recover from rebels, as well as two major areas they hold in the northwest and southwest.

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Russian Federation declared that the British government was involved in the plotting of the chemical attack in Syria.

'In fact I can suggest, we have witnesses from the hospital where the famous video was shot, ' he said.

"It found the Syrian government responsible for chemical weapons attacks on four occasions and the Islamic State guilty of chemical weapons use in two instances". Moscow, meanwhile, has said that the devastation in Douma was faked by foreign intelligence agencies looking for a rationale to attack Syria.

Asked about the missile attack, an Israeli military spokesman said: "We don't comment on such reports".

But delays and security fears have cast uncertainty over the current fact-finding mission (FFM).

The U.S. -led intervention has threatened to escalate confrontation between the West and Assad's backer Russian Federation, although it has had no impact on the fighting on the ground, in which pro-government forces have pressed on with a campaign to crush the rebellion.

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

"It is very likely that proof and essential elements are disappearing from this site", it said.

The OPCW visit to Douma came hours after Syrian media reported airstrikes Tuesday on government military installations in the central Homs region and the suburbs of Damascus, but the military later said a false alarm had set off air defense systems.