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18 April 2018, 12:48 | Floyd Cook
Syria celebrates over its claim it downed British, French, US missiles
In the Syrian capital, thousands of people gathered on the main Umayyad square to express their support for President Bashar al-Assad in the aftermath of the missile strikes. After all, it was Russian Federation that supported the Syrian government's request to the director general of the OPCW Technical Secretariat to send an OPCW team to Douma.
Douma was the last rebel-held town near Damascus, and the target of a government offensive in February and March that killed hundreds of people and displaced tens of thousands.
Moscow condemned the Western states for refusing to wait for the OPCW's findings before attacking. Syria and its allies blamed Israel for that attack.
Syrian state news agency SANA cited a military source as saying a number of air defence missiles had been fired but no foreign attack had taken place. The mechanism would look at cases where the OPCW fact-finding mission has established chemical weapons were used or likely used. 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. He said government officials met with the delegation several times to discuss cooperation.
A representative of the Russian military, who was speaking to journalists at The Hague, announced that permission had been granted for the OPCW investigators to visit Douma.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied Moscow had interfered with any evidence.
"I can guarantee that Russian Federation has not tampered with the site", Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the BBC.
Russia's envoy to the OPCW, Alexander Shulgin, accused the Syrian Civil Defence White Helmets of using United States funds to fake the attack, calling it a "staged thing".
"It's a clumsy effort to find an explanation if the claim of the chemical weapons use in Syria fails to get confirmation", Shulgin said at a briefing. "They are frantically looking for some justification if their claims that served as the reason for the strike don't receive confirmation". She said Syrian officials have been searching evacuees from Douma to ensure samples are not smuggled out.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Sunday that further Western attacks on Syria would bring chaos to world affairs, as Washington prepared to increase pressure on Russia with new economic sanctions. He spoke in an interview with Turkey's NTV television.
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