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World

REUTERS
April 17, 2018

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US accuses Russia, Syria of tampering with Douma evidence, Moscow denies

DAMASCUS: The United States accused Russia on Monday of blocking international inspectors from reaching the site of a suspected poison gas attack in Syria and said Russians or Syrians may have tampered with evidence on the ground. Moscow immediately denied the charge and blamed delays on retaliatory US-led missile strikes on Syria at the weekend.

In the fraught aftermath of the suspected attack in Douma and the West´s response, Washington also prepared to increase pressure on Russia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad´s main ally, with new economic sanctions. European Union foreign ministers threatened similar measures. Relief organisations say dozens of men, women and children were killed. Footage of young victims foaming at the mouth and weeping in agony helped to thrust Syria´s civil war — in which half a million people have been killed in the past seven years — to the forefront of world concern again.

Inspectors from the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) travelled to Syria last week to inspect the site, but have yet to gain access to Douma, which is now under government control after the rebels withdrew. “It is our understanding the Russians may have visited the attack site,” US Ambassador Kenneth Ward said at an OPCW meeting in The Hague.

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