Investigators visit alleged chemical attack site in Syria

A team of global inspectors entered the town near Damascus that was the scene of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria on Tuesday, Syrian state TV reported.

The U.S. and France say they have evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces used poison gas in the attack, but they have not provided any evidence, even after Saturday's punitive missile strikes.

The reports came just a few days after the United States, Britain and France conducted airstrikes targeting alleged chemical weapons facilities in Syria, in retaliation for a suspected poisonous gas attack.

Increasing regional jitters, Syrian anti-aircraft defences shot down missiles fired at the air base of Shayrat in Homs province late on Monday and at another base northeast of the capital, Damascus, Syrian state television and pro-Iranian Hezbollah media said.

The Syrian "White Helmets" rescue organization, 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.

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The US and its allies France and Britain launched air strikes, targeting sites associated with Syria's chemical weapons capabilities.

Journalists were allowed access to Douma on Monday.

In the meantime, the Russian military have found a laboratory operated by militants in central Douma, which the military says was used to produce chemical weapons. Back in 2014, Syria surrendered its stockpiles of chemical weapons to a joint mission led by the U.S. and the OPCW, which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry.

Syrian activists said more than 40 people were killed in the alleged attack.

The inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are in Syria to investigate an April 7 incident in which Western countries and rescue workers say scores of civilians were gassed to death by government forces.

Until Saturday, Douma was the last rebel-held town near Damascus, and the target of a government offensive in February and March that killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands.

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Mrs May added that it was "legally and morally right" for the United Kingdom to join air strikes against the Syrian regime to prevent "further human suffering". It also reported a separate air strike on the Dumayr air base near Damascus.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed allegations that Russia was trying to hamper the OPCW inspectors, saying Moscow strongly supports their mission to Douma. Israel did not confirm or deny it.

"Innocent families - seeking shelter in underground bunkers - found dead with foam in their mouths, burns to their eyes and their bodies surrounded by a chlorine-like odour".

He and two other residents accused the rebel Army of Islam of carrying out the attack.

Separately, the AP spoke to a medic who was among those who later were evacuated to northern Syria.

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As CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports, rebel forces had held Douma nearly since the start of the war in Syria, now more than seven years old, and the government's fight to take it back was fierce.

  • Kelly Blake