'Gunfire' delays United Nations chemical mission in Syria's Douma

Syria attack

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Russian Federation and the Syrian government deny responsibility for the alleged attack.

The alleged attack and subsequent military response underscored the challenge that the seven-year conflict in Syria poses for the West. President Donald Trump wants to remove USA troops from Syria, where it has been fighting the Islamic State militants.

The U.S. also said it fears the site may have been tampered with.

Days before the USA, together with the United Kingdom and France, bombarded targets in Syria in response to a suspected chemical attack, President Trump said the US would get out of Syria "very soon".

People get supplies in Douma.

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Uzumcu said on Monday that the Syrian government and its ally Russian Federation were blocking his team from visiting Douma.

The bombings marked the biggest intervention by Western countries against Assad and ally Russian Federation. The U.N. -mandated Independent International Commission on Syria has documented more than 30 chemical attacks in Syria between 2013 and the end of 2017 - and says at least 25 of them were carried out by the Syrian military.

Opposition sources say Dumair airport is a major airbase used in a large-scale military campaign waged by the Syrian army with Russian firepower that regained eastern Ghouta, a rebel enclave on the outskirts of Damascus.

Lt. Col. Scott Mann, a retired Green Beret and current president of Rooftop Leadership, said in an interview Tuesday on CBSN he doesn't think that's a good idea.

In her remarks at the J Street conference, Rice said she thought that Trump was "correct" to order a military strike following the first Assad chemical attack more than a year ago and went on to claim that Trump's "unpredictable" nature could have been advantageous at that time.

The OPCW is investigating reports that government forces gassed sites in Douma on April 7, when the town was still held by rebels and home to tens of thousands of civilians. However, the Russian presence in Syria and the US attack are both violations of Syria's sovereignty. Moscow condemned the Western states for refusing to wait for the OPCW's findings before attacking.

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Western states have blamed the Syrian government forces for the incident, but Damascus has denied using chemical weapons.

Both the U.S. and Israel appeared to deny involvement in Monday night's incident.

Additionally, while the use of chemical weapons is prohibited and presents a rather vague red line for some Western leaders - notably, President Donald Trump - far more people have died via conventional weapons and warfare in Syria since the start of the unrest there in 2011, resulting in over half a million deaths and the displacement of millions.

A satellite image shows the Barzah Research and Development Center after being struck by USA and coalition operations in Damascus, Syria, April 14, 2018. Trump could have authorized a big strike that would break the regime's back, and send a message to Iran and Russian Federation that the U.S.is still an influential player in the region, and that the Middle East is not just in the hands of Moscow. Macron met earlier with representatives of the aid groups who spelled out the humanitarian needs of a population that has endured seven years of war.

Lavrov charged that it was the United States, France and Britain who were "standing in the way" of the investigation by ordering air strikes "in the blink of an eye" before the OPCW team had a chance to do their work.

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