France says Syria attack evidence 'highly likely' to 'disappear'

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an event on tax policy in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington D.C. U.S. on Thursday

The sources accused Syrian regime forces, who have now taken full control of the town, of carrying out the attack in order to delay the worldwide investigation into the suspected use of chemical weapons by the Russian-backed Syrian regime which killed at least 49 civilians last week.

Global inspectors are expected to soon enter the Syrian town where an alleged chemical attack was carried out earlier this month, Syrian state media reports, awaiting a final all clear from the United Nations.

Previously, Russia and Syria cited "pending security issues to be worked out" as the reason inspectors were initially denied access to the Douma site. Both Damascus and its ally Russian Federation have denied using any such weapons.

In a statement, the French foreign ministry said it was "essential that Syria give full, immediate and unimpeded access to all the OPCW's requests, whether relating to sites to visit, people to interview or documents to consult".

Douma is now in the hands of government forces after the last rebels withdrew just hours after U.S., French and British forces fired more than 100 missiles to hit three suspected chemical weapons development or storage sites.

More than 70 people died in the suspected April 7 chemical attack - which ultimately drew a military response from the United States, Britain and France.

The Syrian army began preparatory shelling on Tuesday for an assault on the last area outside its control near Damascus, a commander in the pro-government alliance said. Russian Federation and Iran, both allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, have condemned the strikes - and Moscow has suggested the attack was "staged". Yarmouk, Syria's biggest camp for Palestinian refugees, has been under the control of Islamic State fighters for years.

Speaking to Morning Edition, Public Radio International reporter Charles Maynes, who is based in Russian Federation, says the sanctions imposed thus far are having some impact in Russian Federation. The suspected poison gas attack creates a conundrum for Western powers, who are determined to punish Assad for using chemical weapons but have no strategy for the sort of sustained intervention that might damage him.

Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied the claims, saying the OPCW needed United Nations permission before anyone could travel to the area.

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