Chemical Weapons Inspectors Barred from Douma Site

Russia and the Syrian regime have been accused by western diplomats of denying chemical weapons inspectors access to sites in the town of Douma, where an attack killed dozens and prompted US-led missile strikes over the weekend.

Russia and Syria had cited “pending security issues” before inspectors could deploy to the town outside Damascus, said Ahmet Üzümcü, the director general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), at a meeting of its executive council.

Syrian authorities were offering 22 people to interview as witnesses instead, he said, adding that he hoped “all necessary arrangements will be made … to allow the team to deploy to Douma as soon as possible”.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration delayed action on sanctions against Russians suspected of helping Syria’s chemical weapons programme, contradicting remarks on Sunday by the US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley.

Haley had said in a television interview that sanctions would be “coming down” on Monday. But the White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, said on Monday that “a decision will be made in the near future. We’ll keep you guys posted.”

The Washington Post reported that Trump had intervened personally to delay the implementation of sanctions, citing unnamed sources as saying the president “was upset the sanctions were being officially rolled out because he was not yet comfortable executing them”.

And a senior administration source told Reuters that…

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