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Assad 'in a good mood' despite missile strikes on Syria

17 April 2018

In Damascus, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad met inspectors from the global chemical weapons watchdog Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for about three hours in the presence of Russian officers and a senior Syrian security official.

A Pentagon spokesman said there was no USA military activity in that area at this time.

Speaking at a briefing late Friday, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford said the strikes will result in a long term degradation of the Assad regime's capability to develop and deploy chemical and biological weapons.

According to Vladimir Putin, the United States used a staged chemical attack against civilians to carry out a strike.

The US envoy to the OPCW, however, expressed concern that Russian Federation had visited the site and "may have tampered with it" to impede the investigation.

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Asked about US-Russia relations, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said ties were "very strained" but that the US still hoped for a better relationship.

Mr Lavrov and other have also criticised the three countries for carrying out the strikes before the OPCW team could conduct their investigation.

When the alleged chemical attack took place on 7 April, Douma, in the Eastern Ghouta region, was a final rebel stronghold near the capital Damascus, having endured months of shelling.

Now, it is under the control of the Syrian government and Russian military.

"In the United States administration there are specific people who it is possible to talk with", said Mr Ermakov, head of the ministry's department for non-proliferation and arms control.

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How did the air strikes happen?

As his speech came to a close, the first reports of explosions in Damascus began to emerge. The Pentagon says no missiles were engaged.

Nikki Haley, the USA ambassador to the United Nations, warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday that the US would launch new missile strikes against his regime if he carries out another chemical weapons attack. It says Syria's chemical weapons programme has been set back years.

Russian Federation also decried the US -led operation as a failure, saying the majority of the rockets fired at Syria were intercepted by the Syrian government's air defense systems.

A photograph released Sunday by DigitalGlobe, an American company that specializes in space imaging, appears to show what remains of the Barzah Research and Development Center in Damascus after being struck.

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Assad 'in a good mood' despite missile strikes on Syria