Sunday, 16 June, 2019

China backs probe into suspected Syria chemical attack

China backs probe into suspected Syria chemical attack China backs probe into suspected Syria chemical attack
Patty Aguilar | 12 April, 2018, 21:12

The alleged chemical attack that killed more than 70 civilians in Douma sparked worldwide outrage Sunday, with U.S. President Donald Trump warning there would be a "big price to pay".

"Another such hoax that has supposedly taken place is the alleged chemical attack in Douma yesterday", Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement over the weekend. The Russians, on the other side, even blame the terrorists for such attacks.

Locals from Idlib's Saraqib, Marratinuman and Khan Shaykhun districts - which came under a chemical attack last April - and Keferruma and Maarsurin towns joined the demonstrations. "Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world", the president said.

In an unprecedented move for Trump, he singled out Russian Federation and its president, Vladimir Putin, for backing the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. "Big price to pay", Trump said in a pair of tweets which began with a discussion of the attack in Syria's Eastern Ghouta.

The White House deliberations came as Russian Federation and the Syrian military blamed Israel for a pre-dawn missile attack on a major air base in central Syria, saying Israeli fighter jets launched the missiles from Lebanon's air space.

Just over a year ago, Trump ordered dozens of cruise missiles to be fired at a Syrian air base after declaring there was no doubt Assad had "choked out the lives of helpless" civilians in an attack that used banned gases. U.S. Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser Thomas Bossert tells ABC's This Week that all options are on the table, and would not rule out launching a missile in response. "We're looking into the attack at this point".

Footage from the area showed bodies strewn across the floor of an air raid shelter.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

Douma is the last remaining opposition-held town in Ghouta, once the opposition group's main bastion outside Damascus but now ravaged by a seven-week regime assault.

The location of the T-4 airbase, highlighted in red, and Duma, Outside Damascus.

Government forces have taken control of more than 90 percent of eastern Ghouta, an opposition stronghold near the Syrian capital of Damascus. But Jaish al-Islam rejected this, demanding to stay in Douma.

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Outstanding family home in Barna village
Search teams from multiple agencies were unable to search the river over the weekend because it was deemed unsafe for divers. Fire crews were able to quickly extinguish the flames but the property has been significantly damaged and is now unsafe.

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Syrian state media said on Sunday a deal had been struck under which Jaish al-Islam would finally leave for the town of Jarablus after saying the group had asked for negotiations.

The Army of Islam could not be immediately reached for comment.

Syria and its ally Russian Federation have dismissed allegations that the attack was carried out by Syrian forces as "fabrications" and have warned against using them to justify military action.

Taking Douma would seal Assad's biggest victory since 2016, and underline his unassailable position in the war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people since it mushroomed from protests against his rule in 2011.

In 2013, also in Eastern Ghouta, a sarin attack killed more than 1,000 people - an event that prompted Barack Obama, who was the USA president at the time, to threaten military action against the Syrian government.

Medical relief organization SAMS said a chlorine bomb hit Douma hospital, killing six people, and a second attack with "mixed agents", including nerve agents, had hit a nearby building.

Basel Termanini, the US -based vice president of SAMS, which operates medical facilities and supports medics in Syria, told Reuters another 35 people had been killed at a nearby apartment building, a lot of them women and children. Civil defense volunteers reported more than 42 cases of people dead at their homes showing the same symptoms, it said.

The Syrian National Coalition have said that fatalities could exceed 100 people.

Numerous dead are reportedly women and children.

UOSSM, a medical aid association with doctors stationed in the Intensive Care Unit in Douma detailed to NPR a one-two chemical attack.

Russia's Foreign Ministry released a statement on Sunday calling allegations of a chemical weapons attack in Syria "bogus", "invented", and "fabricated".

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