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Posted by admin on Apr 17, 2018

The TelegraphChemical weapons experts are due to arrive in Douma on Wednesday to probe the alleged poison gas attack, Russian officials said, as the US voiced fears Moscow may already have "tampered with" evidence at the site. Following weekend missile strikes on Syria by the US, France and Britain, Russia traded accusations with Western nations on Monday, dismissing as "a blatant lie" accusations that Moscow was hindering the investigation in Douma. The four nations confronted each other in tense emergency talks at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague as inspectors prepare for a difficult and dangerous mission. Syrian state media early Tuesday said air defence had shot down missiles over the central province of Homs, with the strikes reportedly targeting regime air bases. It was not known who carried out the attack, with Pentagon spokeswoman Heather Babb saying: "There are no US or coalition operations in that area." Israel's military declined to comment, as is its custom. Initial reports indicated that the incident may have been a false alarm and that Syrian forces may have opened fire by mistake. Syrian authorities distribute bread, vegetables and pasta to Douma residents more than a week after the attack Credit:  Hassan Ammar/ AP The developments came as UK parliament geared up for its second debate on the West's missile strikes on chemical weapons facilities at the weekend. Ahead of an emergency debate called by Jeremy Corbyn has insisted on parliamentary approval for intervention, Lord Hague told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday morning that the Government had “quite possibly made a mistake” by recalling MPs to vote on action in Syria after the chemical attack in 2013. He said: “I don’t subscribe to the idea that any military action makes things worse. There have been many military actions and wars that have made it worse. "But I do strongly believe that if in 2013 Parliament had given us the permission to launch limited strikes ... I do strongly believe that there would have been less Russian adventurism, less foreign intervention and fewer attacks by chemical weapons in the years since then.” The weekend missile strikes by the US, Britain and France were in response to an alleged chlorine and sarin gas attack in Douma on April 7 in which 40 people were said to have been killed. OPCW director general Ahmet Uzumcu said his nine-strong, all-volunteer team had reached Damascus, but so far "the team has not yet deployed to Douma". Syrian and Russian officials had warned of "pending security issues to be worked out before any deployment could take place," Uzumcu said. Igor Kirillov, head of Russia's radiological, biological and chemical protection unit, told reporters the roads still had to be de-mined and cleared and would be tested by UN security services on Tuesday. "On Wednesday is when we plan the arrival of the OPCW experts," he added at a press conference in the Russian embassy in The Hague. Pro Assad supporters were among an anti-war demonstration outside parliament in London on Monday Credit: TOLGA AKMEN/ AFP The US ambassador to the OPCW, Ken Ward, claimed however the Russians had already visited the site and "may have tampered with it with the intent of thwarting the efforts of the OPCW fact-finding mission". The Kremlin dismissed the claims. "I can guarantee that Russia has not tampered with the site," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the BBC. And the Russian ambassador to the Netherlands, Alexander Shulgin, said it was a "blatant lie" that Moscow was hampering the investigation. Instead he said 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 had a chance to do their work. The missiles that US, French and British warships fired on suspected chemical facilities Saturday constituted the biggest Western

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