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Strikes on Syria put further reconciliation talks at risk — Russian diplomat

Russian military experts have found no evidence to prove that chemical weapons were used in Douma

GENEVA, April 17. /TASS/. Saturday's missile strike by Washington and its allies on Syria has put at risk further negotiations on the conflict settlement, said Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva.

"This unsubstantiated aggression has heated up tensions around Syria and has de-facto put into question the fate of the negotiation process," the diplomat told Russian reporters in Geneva.

The United States, France and the United Kingdom used allegations of a chemical attack in the city of Douma as a pretext for the attack.

Gatilov said that OPCW experts have been deployed in Syria to investigate those reports.

"They receive all possible support from the Syrian government and officers of the Russian military police. All conditions have created for their normal work, first of all from the point of view of ensuring their security," the diplomat said.

Gatilov reiterated that Russian military experts detected no evidence to prove that chemical weapons were used in Douma. Similar reports were received from Syrian doctors, who worked in Douma at the time of the alleged attack.

He said that the International Syria Support Group's (ISSG) Ceasefire Task Force held an emergency meeting in Geneva at Russia’s initiative to discuss Saturday’s strike on Syria.

"On our part, we gave a detailed characteristic of those countries’ illegal actions, which constitute a blatant violation of the international law and, first of all, the UN Charter," Gatilov said.

On April 14, the United States, France and the United Kingdom delivered a massive strike on Syrian targets in bypassing of the United Nations Security Council. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the missile strike took place in the small hours on Saturday. The ministry reported that a total of 103 cruise and air-to-surface missiles had been fired, 71 of them were shot down by Syria’s air defense units. Three civilians were wounded. Neither of the missiles appeared in the zone of responsibility of Russian air defense systems in Tartus and Hmeymim. Russian missile defense systems were not used.

The United States, the UK and France said the strikes had been a response to an alleged chemical attack in Syria’s Douma.