USA to impose sanctions on Russian Federation over Syria aide, Haley says

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Amid a fierce war of words between Russian Federation and the USA and its allies, Moscow has said that a team of chemical experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will inspect the site of a suspected poison gas attack in Syria on Wednesday.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in an interview in Sunday's Journal Du Dimanche newspaper that "we should join our efforts to promote a political process in Syria that would allow a way out of the crisis".

"The team has not yet deployed to Douma", two days after arriving in Syria, Mr Uzumcu told an executive council of the OPCW in The Hague.

The leaders will be expected to answer for their decision to join the USA in launching missiles at suspected chemical weapons sites in Syria, in an attempt to punish President Bashar al-Assad's regime for the alleged chemical attack.

The attack "was a victory for Syria", former lawmaker Sharif Shehadeh said by phone from Damascus.

Lavrov implied that Friday night's airstrikes against Syrian facilities were actually an attempt by the USA and its allies to prevent global inspectors from visiting Douma, by making the region too unsafe for inspectors to access the site.

"As far as I understand, what is hampering a speedy resolution of this problem is the consequences of the illegal, unlawful military action that Great Britain and other countries conducted on Saturday", he said.

The Syrian government has strongly denied the allegations.

He says the Russian air defense assets in Syria monitored the strike but didn't engage any of the missiles.

Defense Secretary Mattis said at the time that no follow-up attacks were planned and that the Pentagon was careful to ensure the safety of Russian troops and Syrian civilians in the area.

· While the French government said it had no samples of the chemical weapons it believes were used, it released its own assessment based on publically available information that concluded only the Syrian armed forces could have been behind the attack.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denied that Russia interfered with any evidence.

"I can guarantee that Russian Federation has not tempered with the site", Lavrov told BBC in an interview.

Syrian and Russian officials had warned of "pending security issues to be worked out before any deployment could take place", Uzumcu said.

Morocco has deplored the deterioration of the situation in the Middle East, including last week's military escalation in Syria, and has said that "military options" will not only make quest for political solutions hard but will deepen civilian suffering and "heighten anti-West sentiment".

May says the accounts about the use of a barrel bomb suggest that a Syrian government helicopter was seen flying above Douma just before last weekend's attack. The OPCW team does not have a mandate to assign blame for the attack.

France concluded after technical analysis of open sources and "reliable intelligence" that a chemical attack on Douma on 7 April was carried out by Syrian government forces, a declassified intelligence report said on Saturday.

The missiles struck three chemical weapons facilities.

"While Russia was busy protecting the regime, Assad took notice", Ms. Haley said.

As world leaders and their representatives set out their views on the strikes, hundreds of people in Turkey, Iraq, India and Cyprus protested against the mission.

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