United Nations security team came under fire in Syria's Douma


Inspectors at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are delaying their visit to sites near Damascus to investigate suspected chemical weapons use by the Syrian government because an advance security team came under fire.

On April 7, Syrian opposition portals cited militants claiming the Syrian government used chemical weapons in the city of Douma and up to 70 people were killed in the attack.

On Thursday, the United States said that it had credible information to suggest that Syria and Russian Federation were working to delay the OPCW mission to Douma as their forces removed evidence that a chemical attack had taken place.

"In Syria, a risky pattern of behaviour has developed in which chemical weapons. are being used by the Assad regime against its own people in the most abhorrent way imaginable".

The inspectors for the Hague-based OPCW met Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad in the presence of Russian officers and a senior Syrian security official in Damascus for about three hours on April 15.

Now it's unclear when the inspectors will be able to start working there. General Kenneth McKenzie, director of the U.S. military's Joint Staff, said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime retains a "residual" chemical capability at a variety of sites across the country.

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Then the pressure increased.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson made this clear on Monday as he arrived at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg, telling reporters: "I'm afraid the Syrian war will go on in its terrible, miserable way".

"We no longer have such moral obligations", Lavrov said. Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said there was no indication the Assad regime was preparing to launch another chemical weapons attack.

Lavrov told state television that Trump mentioned the possible trip when he called Putin on March 20 to congratulate him on his re-election to another six years in office.

"Reports that Secretary Mattis urged the president to seek congressional approval before last week's strikes in Syria are categorically false", a statement from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, which fights alongside the Syrian army, said the US military had kept its strikes limited because it knew a wider attack would bring retaliation from Damascus and its allies and inflame the region.