Incriminating evidence had likely been removed, as inspectors allowed in Douma

A Syrian boy cycles down a destroyed street in Douma on the outskirts of Damascus on April 16, 2018 during an organized media tour after the Syrian army declared that all anti-regime forces have left Eastern Ghouta, following a blistering two month offensive on the rebel enclave: (Louai Beshara/AFP)
Updated 17 April 2018
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Incriminating evidence had likely been removed, as inspectors allowed in Douma

BEIRUT: International investigators on Tuesday entered a Syrian town hit by an alleged chemical attack, after days of delay and warnings by Western powers that crucial evidence had likely been removed.
The suspected gas attack on April 7 on Douma, near Damascus, reportedly left more than 40 people dead and was blamed by Western powers on the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
In response, the United States, France and Britain conducted unprecedented missile strikes on Syrian military installations, but Paris admitted on Tuesday they were a matter of “honor” that had solved nothing.
“Experts from the chemical weapons committee enter the town of Douma,” state news agency SANA wrote, referring to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The inspectors arrived in Damascus on the day of the Western strikes but had not been allowed to enter Douma.
France and the United States appeared to question the purpose of such a mission, warning that any incriminating evidence had likely been removed by now.
“It is highly likely that evidence and essential elements disappear from the site, which is completely controlled by the Russian and Syrian armies,” the French foreign ministry said.
The US ambassador to the OPCW, Ken Ward, had claimed Monday that the Russians had already visited the site and “may have tampered with it.”
In an impassioned defense to the European Parliament on Tuesday, France’s President Emmanuel Macron admitted that Saturday’s strikes had been a more political than military decision.
“Three countries have intervened, and let me be quite frank, quite honest — this is for the honor of the international community,” he said in the French city of Strasbourg.
“These strikes don’t necessarily resolve anything but I think they were important,” Macron added.
The French leader was also set to strip Syrian President Bashar Assad of a prestigious award he was granted by former president Jacques Chirac in 2001.
“The Elysee confirms that a disciplinary procedure for withdrawing the Legion d’Honneur (Legion of Honour) is under way,” Macron’s office said.


Trump says Iran in turmoil since US withdrew from nuke deal

US President Donald Trump. (AP)
Updated 21 min 27 sec ago
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Trump says Iran in turmoil since US withdrew from nuke deal

  • Trump in May pulled the United States from the nuclear deal signed between Tehran and world powers in 2015
  • Iran’s economy is already suffering from the sanctions that Washington re-imposed after walking away from the nuclear agreement

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump asserted Monday that Iran was being roiled by nationwide riots since he pulled out of an international nuclear deal and that Washington supports the protesters.
Trump, interviewed after his summit in Helsinki with President Vladimir Putin, said that Russia still supported the nuclear accord because it does business with the regime in Tehran, so the deal is in Moscow’s interest.
“It is not good for us or for the world, but they have riots in all their cities,” Trump told Fox News.
“The inflation is rampant, going through the roof. And not that you want to hurt anybody, but that regime wouldn’t let the people know that we are behind them 100 percent.
“They are having big protests all over the country, probably as big as they have ever had before. And battles happened since I terminated that deal, so we will see,” he added.
Over the objections of allies, Trump in May pulled the United States from the nuclear deal signed between Tehran and world powers in 2015.
He reimposed US sanctions that had been suspended in return for controls on Tehran’s nuclear program, effectively barring many multinational firms from doing business in Iran.
Iran has been defiant in the face of the US move, saying it has left the Trump administration internationally isolated.
“The illegal logic of the United States is not supported by any of the international organizations,” President Hassan Rouhani said at the weekend.
Iran has faced mounting economic woes since Trump’s withdrawal announcement, with inflation rising sharply.
Its currency has plunged almost 50 percent in value in the past six months against the US dollar, prompting a rare strike earlier this month by traders in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar.
There have also been reports of brief scuffles and small-scale protests in recent weeks although not of mass demonstrations.