US State Department: Russia, Syria try to 'clear out' chemical attack site

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The State Department announced Thursday that it has "credible information" that Russian officials are working with the Syrian government to delay a USA investigation into chemical attack sites in order to "sanitize" and "remove incriminating evidence".

Karen Pierce said all the facts had not yet been established, and that Russian Federation and Syria should allow inspectors to visit the site.

But the British delegation to the OPCW said Russian Federation and Syria had not yet allowed inspectors access to Douma.

The conclusion contrasts with the Trump administration's assertion that the strikes on Saturday hit at the heart of Assad's chemical weapons program, language suggesting that Assad's ability to stage more attacks had been dealt a devastating blow. The US, France and Britain carried out airstrikes against suspected chemical weapons facilities belonging to the Syrian government after concluding that Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces were behind the attack, though they have not made that evidence public.

But reports of chemical weapons attacks in Syria kept coming after 2013 - namely chlorine attacks and, in some cases, what appeared to be nerve agent attacks. But this by no means indicates acceptance of Americans taking a role in the Syrian Civil War.

The Kurdish-led SDF have been of the U.S.'s most trusted allies in Syria in its war on the Islamic State group.

French Ambassador to Indonesia Jean-Charles Berthonnet added that the countries had to target Assad's regime as it had crossed a red line with the latest alleged chemical strike.

Jarablus is shared between Turkish and Syrian opposition control. "But it was the world saying that we've had enough of the use of chemical weapons".

Syria and its Russian backers deny that government forces were responsible for the reported attack in the town of Douma. Colorful charts were used at a briefing in Moscow to demonstrate how effective the Russian-organized Syrian defenses were. It says the militants posed a threat to Iraq, without providing further details.

"Indonesia underlines the need for all parties to respect worldwide laws, and norms, in particular the (United Nations) charter on global peace and security", the minister said in an official press statement over the weekend, continuing a line of persistent objections over the unauthorised use of force.

Syrian state media say hundreds of rebels fighters in a town northeast of Damascus have handed in their weapons and started to leave under an evacuation deal.

Douma, in the eastern Goutha district, was one of the last bastions near Damascus of rebels fighting to topple Assad, and the alleged attack took place amid a ferocious government offensive.

"Reports that Secretary Mattis urged the president to seek congressional approval before last week's strikes in Syria are categorically false", a statement from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.