Syria chemical weapons inspection postponed after gunfire

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By Middle East Affairs

International chemical weapons inspectors will have to delay their visit to the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria after a U.N. security experienced gunfire during its visit Tuesday, Reuters reported.

The news agency said the U.N. security team had entered Douma to assess its situation before inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) would be allowed to enter.

A source told Reuters the team had “encountered a security issue,” which included gunfire, but could not give further details. Another said they heard the gunfire as protesters were demanding them for aid. The U.N. then left, Reuters said.

Syria’s U.N. ambassador told the news agency that this will put the inspection team behind by a day, given that the security team deems it safe enough to enter, but another source said that wasn’t likely to happen.

An alleged chemical attack in Douma on April 7 killed dozens of civilians, according to medical relief agencies. Much of the international communities blames Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies Russia and Iran. The countries deny it, and Assad and Russia have gone so far as to call the whole thing a hoax, put on to justify air strikes.

The United States, Britain and France did indeed carry out air strikes the following Saturday in retaliation for the alleged chemical attack.

The United States says Russia is blocking international inspectors from reaching the site of the suspected gas attack and that Russians or Syrians may be messing with potential evidence. France is also seeing that evidence is very likely disappearing from the site.

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