Syrians Celebrate, OPCW to Continue Chemical Weapon Probe

Monday, 16 Apr, 2018

Syrian state media reported that internal security forces had entered Douma on Saturday and that the town would be secured within hours.

Douma was the last rebel holdout in the eastern Ghouta suburbs, the target of a massive government offensive in February and March.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) released a statement Saturday saying the organization is in Syria to conduct an investigation into the allegation that the April 7 attack in Duma was a chemical one and will remain there until the task is complete. Syrian air defense systems intercepted 71 cruise missiles and air-surface missiles fired by the Western coalition, the Russian Defense Ministry said, adding that none of its own air defense units were involved in repelling the attack.

Pope Francis says he is "deeply disturbed" by the global community's failure to come up with a common response to the crises in Syria and other parts of the world.

His plea comes after the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), which was created as a body to attribute responsibility for the use of chemical weapons in Syria in 2015, expired in November 2017.

The report showed people waving Syrian flags, alongside those of Iran and Russia— the main allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad during years of the country's conflict — in the face of what many called "limited" or even "failed" strikes created to punish Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons.

The Syrian army has declared the eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus "fully liberated" after the last group of gunmen left the town of Douma.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in an interview published Sunday in the 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". She says: "President Assad has an absolutely positive attitude, a good mood".

Due largely to divisions among its five permanent members - China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States - the Council could not adopt three draft resolutions that would have responded to a suspected chemical weapons attack in the Syrian town of Douma. It added that such conclusions are also backed by the unwillingness of the USA and its allies to participate in the reconstruction or the areas liberated by the Syrian government. Syria and Russian Federation, its ally, have denied the allegations.