Nikki Haley says more sanctions against Russian Federation coming as soon as Monday

Nellie Chapman
April 17, 2018

Russian Federation has denied interfering with evidence at the site of a suspected Syrian chemical weapons attack that drew Western military retaliation.

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

Global inspectors are trying to reach the site in Douma, near Damascus. Critics have complained that the strikes pre-empted the probe by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons into the alleged attack on April 7.

Inspectors in Syria have still not gained access to Douma, it is reported.

Inspectors from the worldwide chemical weapons watchdog met Syrian officials in Damascus on Monday but have so far been denied access to the former rebel stronghold where the alleged use of toxic substances provoked a US-led strike. Britain's delegation to the OPCW accused Russian Federation and the Assad government of stopping inspectors from reaching Douma.

But soon after Mr Macron's comments, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said an early exit was still desirable.

"A short time ago, I ordered the United States Armed Forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad", Trump said in a televised address from the White House.

The agency said survivors blamed the attack on the Army of Islam, the powerful rebel group that controlled the town before it was taken over by Syrian government forces this week.

The US said no special United Nations permission was required.

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The event did not take place, he said.

On April 6, the US Treasury Department added 38 Russians, senior officials, and companies on its sanctions list, in response to Moscow's alleged "malign activity".

He said: "I'm afraid the Syrian war will go on in its awful, miserable way".

Witnesses and Western governments say helicopters dropped chemical bombs that killed many children and women hiding in cellars from bombardment.

"The European Union will continue to consider further restrictive measures against Syria as long as the repression continues", they said in a statement after their talks.

Although U.S. President Donald Trump had declared: "Mission accomplished" after the strikes, U.S. Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie at the Pentagon acknowledged that elements of the program remained and he could not guarantee that Syria would be unable to conduct a chemical attack in the future.

"It is long overdue that this council condemns the Syrian government for its reign of chemical terror and demands worldwide accountability for those responsible for these heinous acts", US Ambassador Kenneth Ward said.

The website noted that the top single web page being promoted was a link to a report on Russia's claim that the Skripals were poisoned with a different toxin to the one identified by the independent chemical weapons watchdog last week.

Meanwhile, media reports noted that the United Kingdom government has confirmed a "20-fold" increase in disinformation being spread by Kremlin-linked social media "bot" accounts since the United Kingdom, USA and France attacked Syria's chemical weapons infrastructure on Saturday. The Western leaders also faced scrutiny at home over their actions. The French Constitution bars presidents from going to parliament and President Emmanuel Macron will therefore not be questioned by law-makers.

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