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Russian Federation claims Syria chemical attack a 'fabrication' by a foreign power

Russian Federation claims Syria chemical attack a 'fabrication' by a foreign power

Experts from the world's global chemical arms watchdog are continuing their mission to probe an alleged gas attack in Douma despite Western air strikes in Syria, the body said Saturday.

Moscow 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.

"This is the latest conjecture of our British colleagues", said Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's deputy foreign minister.

Witnesses and Western governments said helicopters dropped sarin and chlorine bombs that killed many children and women who were sheltering from the fighting between rebels and government troops.

On Thursday, Russia's military said Douma had been brought under full control of the Syrian government under a Russia-mediated deal that secured the evacuation of the rebels and thousands of civilians after it was recaptured by Syrian forces.

"The targeted U.S., French, and United Kingdom air strikes on chemical-weapons facilities in Syria were specific measures having been taken with the sole objective to prevent the further use of chemical weapons and chemical substances as weapons by the Syrian regime to kill its own people", it said.

A man rides past destruction in the town of Douma the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack near Damascus Syria Monday
Russian Federation claims Syria chemical attack a 'fabrication' by a foreign power

The OPCW chief, Ahmet Uzumcu, told the meeting his inspectors had failed to gain access to the site.

The U.S. ambassador to the OPCW, Ken Ward, told the meeting that the Russians may have already visited the site of the alleged poison gas attack.

"It is our concern that they may have tampered with it with the intent of thwarting the efforts of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission to conduct an effective investigation", he said.

The limited scope of the strikes and the fact that Damascus had time to remove key assets thanks to prior warning given by the West to Syria regime ally Russian Federation, also drew sceptical comments from analysts.

Syria and Russian Federation say there are still security concerns to take care of before the team can inspect the area.

The statement comes after a night of bombing, which saw US, French, and British forces launch missiles at sites including a military facility outside Homs and a suspected research center in the capital, Damascus. "Therefore, allegations of this kind against Russian Federation are groundless", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The OPCW had recorded 390 allegations of the use of banned chemicals in Syria since 2014 he said, and a failure by the OPCW to act risked allowing "further barbaric use of chemical weapons".