Russia, Syria Still Deny OPCW Access to Alleged Chemical Attack Site - Paris

Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford left and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis right brief members of the media on Syria at the Pentagon

The comments came after the announcement that the U.S.is prepared to ramp up pressure against Russian Federation in the form of economic sanctions in a bid to halt Moscow's support for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, who is accused of perpetrating the recent chemical attack. "We have not denied the team any request for it to go to Douma", and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last week reaffirmed his support for an OPCW investigation. Syria and Russian Federation deny unleashing poison gas on April 7 during their offensive on Douma, which ended with the recapture of the town that had been the last rebel stronghold near the capital, Damascus. The OPCW team does not have a mandate to assign blame for the attack.

Trump criticized Putin after the suspected gas attack in Syria for backing "Animal Assad", but he has not done so again.

After midnight, Syrian state media outlets and the War Media, the media wing of the Syrian army and its allies, reported that Syrian air defenses responded to a missile strike believed to be carried out by Israel. France, the United States and Britain circulated a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council late on Saturday that aims to establish an independent inquiry into who is responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

Both Russia and the Syrian government have welcomed the OPCW mission.

"They were discussed but it was chose to hold off for a little while", that official said.

Russian and Iranian military help over the past three years has allowed Assad to crush the rebel threat to topple him. Opposition activists have said the troops might have removed any evidence of chemical weapons' use. "I can guarantee that Russian Federation has not tampered with the site", he told the BBC.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov suggested Monday that OPCW inspectors couldn't get quick approval to visit the site of the alleged attack because of airstrikes from the West. "Our American partners are clearly getting nervous". She said Syrian officials have been searching evacuees from Douma to ensure samples are not smuggled out. Assad told a group of visiting Russian lawmakers that the Western missile strikes were an act of aggression, Russian news agencies reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday warned that if the strikes continue, "it will inevitably entail chaos in worldwide relations". He spoke in an interview with Turkey's NTV television.

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