Weapons inspectors did not enter Douma, US State Dept

An image from a video released by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets shows medical workers treating toddlers following an alleged poison gas attack in the opposition-held town of Douma Syria

Soon, small arms fire broke out and a nearby explosive was detonated at one of the two locations.

There was a briefing by United Nations humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock, who said people in both places need humanitarian help.

"We've found confirmations that the real aim of "the three" was to give terrorists a break, restore their strength, prolong the bloodshed on the Syrian soil, thus impeding the process of the political settlement", the ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

The Syrian "White Helmets" rescue organisation, which operates in rebel-held areas, has pinpointed for the OPCW team the places where victims of the suspected attack are buried, its head Raed Saleh said on Wednesday.

NPR's Ruth Sherlock says that nobody was reportedly injured in the attack.

De Mistura also plans to meet with Turkish, Russian and Iranian officials as well as officials from several European counties and the U.S.

The team had to return to its base in Damascus after Tuesday's shooting attack.

Earlier this week, Doane and his team were allowed access to the site the weapons experts are still trying to reach.

While the USA went after ISIS and "actually achieved lasting gains for the Syrian people, the Assad regime was busy bombarding civilians in places like Aleppo, Idlib and Eastern Ghouta", Currie said. Moscow, meanwhile, has said that the devastation in Douma was faked by foreign intelligence agencies looking for a rationale to attack Syria.

OPCW chief Ahmet Uzumcu said the incident highlighted "the highly volatile environment" in which the fact-finding team had to work.

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A United Nations security team was sacked at on Tuesday (Apr 18) while on a reconnaissance mission in the Syrian town of Douma to prepare the deployment of experts investigating an alleged chemical attack, officials said.

That security team was met with a large crowd at the first inspection site. Western diplomats and weapons experts have underlined that time is of the essence if inspectors are going to figure out exactly what took place. They arrived in Damascus on a fact-finding mission on Saturday. Syria's United Nations ambassador Bashar Jaafari told the Security Council on Tuesday that the OPCW experts would begin their investigation once they received the all-clear from the United Nations team.

He said Russian Federation wants the USA and its allies to "stop aggressive actions and threats to use force" against Syria and to cease undermining Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity by maintaining foreign forces in the country, looting its resources and "stoking hatred" among its different populations.

Russian Federation and the Syrian government deny responsibility for the alleged attack.

He was referring to the rebel fighters who controlled Douma until the Syrian army took it back about a week ago. Then Syrian state media claimed on Tuesday that the inspectors had entered the town.

It says the total number of evacuees has reached 5,000, including 1,500 gunmen.

A child cries as they have their face wiped following alleged chemical weapons attack, in what is said to be Douma, Syria in this still image from video obtained by Reuters on April 8, 2018.

As Peter Ford, Britain's former ambassador to Syria, put it in statements to Sputnik Radio Loud & Clear, it needs only "half of a brain" to know that Bashar al-Assad would derive no benefit from such an attack, as his forces have been sealing a major victory of controlling Eastern Ghouta, the capital's long-standing weak flank, where thousands of militants and their families are being evacuated.

"The U.S. ambassador to the OPCW, Kenneth Ward, expressed Washington's concern that almost two weeks after the attack, inspectors would find tampering of evidence".

"There needs to be a comprehensive strategy here laid out by the administration for Congress in terms of the options to pursue because of the urgency", House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce said during a House panel Wednesday.

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