US accuses Russia, Syria of tampering with Douma evidence

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The United States is due to announce new economic sanctions on Russian Federation aimed at companies it alleges were dealing with equipment related to chemical weapons, according to USA ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.

Haley said the three United States goals for accomplishing its mission are making sure chemical weapons are not used in a way that could harm America's national interests, defeating ISIS and having a good vantage point to watch what Iran is doing.

The United States, the United Kingdom, and France conducted air strikes against Syria on April 14 in response to a suspected chemical attack by the Syrian government that killed dozens of people last week.

Russian officials have claimed that the Douma attack was staged to distract the public from a supposed lack of clarity about who poisoned ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Salibsury in March.

While insisting the action taken early Saturday morning in Syria was "a very strong attack on the chemical weapons program", Haley hit back on more hawkish critics who argue the U.S. didn't go far enough because it did not change the balance of power in the long-running Syrian civil war.

U.S. President Donald Trump said the strikes had accomplished their aim of undermining efforts by the Syrian government to produce and use chemical weapons again in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Mr Lavrov also questioned why the USA and its allies had carried out air strikes the day before global inspectors were due to arrive at the site.

Syrian medical sources say bodies were found foaming at the mouth, and with discoloured skin and cornea burns.

"But it was the world saying that we have had enough of the use of chemical weapons, the erosion of that taboo that has been in place for 100 years has gone too far under Bashar Assad", he said.

Russia's deputy foreign minister said the delay was due to the Western strikes.

Ryabkov said the mission wasn't allowed in because it hadn't secured the approval of the UN Department for Safety and Security.

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"And what's most important is no one contests that the use of chemical weapons can not be tolerated and must be deterred", he said.

When asked on "Fox News Sunday" about "how our relationship with Russian Federation has changed this week", Haley said that relations are "very strained".

"Unfettered access is essential", the British delegation said in a statement.

The night time assault on Syria was carefully limited to minimise civilian casualties and avoid direct conflict with Russian Federation, but confusion arose over the extent to which Washington warned Moscow in advance.

Russia's deputy foreign minister said the delay was due to US airstrikes.

Russian Federation had earlier warned that it would equip Syria with better anti-air missile defense systems to take down any missile attacks in the future.

He spoke as the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) watchdog held an urgent meeting.

The organization, which needs a two-thirds majority to make decisions, has been undermined by deep political division over the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government.

OPCW inspectors were expected to enter Douma aiming to collect samples, interview witnesses and document evidence to determine whether banned toxic munitions were used.

On CBS's "Face the Nation", Haley said the Treasury Department will announce the new sanctions and insisted the United States has sent "a strong message" about the use of chemical weapons.