WARNING: This contains graphic photos of the attack. AP National Security Writer Robert Burns lays out the range of options the Trump administration has available to it in response to the Assad regime’s reported use of chemical weapons in Syria.
A prestigious, international chemical weapons watchdog organization will send a fact-finding team to Syria “soon” to investigate claims that government forces used chemical weapons against civilians in a the rebel-held town of Douma, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Tuesday.
The OPCW said it has been gathering and analyzing information “from all available sources.” The group’s director general, Ahmet Üzümcü, determined the fact-finding team could help establish what really happened in the Damascus suburb Saturday.
The rebel Syria Civil Defense Force claimed more than 40 people were killed and entire families were gassed to death in the attack. Syria has denied the allegations and, along with ally Russia, invited the organization to send in an investigative team.
The attack drew global outrage. President Trump blasted “that animal” Syrian President Bashar Assad and said blame also fell on Russia and Iran for supporting his regime.
Trump met with top military advisers to discuss a response to the most recent Syrian attack, telling reporters that “nothing is off the table.” French President Macron said French, U.S. and British officials will decide “in coming days” focusing on the “regime’s chemical capabilities,” Agence Press-France reported.
The OPCW has an ongoing mandate to investigate allegations of the use of toxic chemicals for hostile purposes in Syria.
“Today, the OPCW Technical Secretariat has requested the Syrian Arab Republic to make the necessary arrangements for such a deployment,” the group said in a statement.
The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria issued a statement Tuesday saying Russian and Syrian troops inspected the area and found no traces of chemical agents. A check of local hospitals found no patients suffering from illnesses associated with chemical agents, the center added.
“All these facts show… that no chemical weapons were used in the town of Douma, as it was claimed,” the statement said.
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