An envoy said authorities traveled to Syria to address inconsistencies between an initial rundown of its chemical arms and removed stocks, Reuters reports.
The Western official said enforcers of an international chemical-arms ban began the visit last week, days before their agency announced it would look into claims that combatants have employed chlorine gas in the nation’s 3-year-old civil war.
Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government filed additional details earlier this month on the chemical-warfare inventory it reported last year to the Organization for the Prohibition for Chemical Weapons. The regime agreed to relinquish the materials last year, after sarin nerve gas killed hundreds of people on the edge of the Syrian capital and bolstered discussion of a possible foreign military intervention.
The anti-Assad Syrian National Coalition on Tuesday urged OPCW investigators to look for undeclared regime chemical arms, in addition to examining the chlorine claims.
The coalition noted Western intelligence indications that Assad may be concealing warfare chemicals from international authorities. Inspectors should visit sites operated by the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, the rebel group added in an e-mailed statement.
An independent study by the London Telegraph links Assad’s regime to the alleged chlorine strikes, the newspaper reported on Tuesday. The government is not required to surrender any chlorine under an international chemical-arms treaty it joined last year, though the pact prohibits use of the toxic industrial material as a weapon.
Damascus has consistently blamed chemical attacks on its opponents.
Russia, an ally of Assad, on Wednesday affirmed the regime’s assertion that an alleged April chlorine attack in the town of Kfar Zeita was the work of the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaida-affiliated opposition group, ITAR-Tass reported.
“We expect that unbiased work of international experts will make it possible to find out what really happened and will expose those responsible,” the Russian foreign ministry stated.
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“A bill headed for President Barack Obama this week includes a provision that would ban U.S. imports of fish caught by slaves in Southeast Asia, gold mined by children in Africa and garments sewn by abused women in Bangladesh, closing a loophole in an 85-year-old tariff law.” The Senate approved the bill, which would also ban Internet taxes and overhaul trade laws, by a vote of 75-20. It now goes to President Obama.
Bernie Sanders has closed to within seven points of Hillary Clinton in a new Morning Consult survey. Clinton leads 46%-39%. Consistent with the New Hampshire voting results, Clinton does best with retirees, while Sanders leads by 20 percentage points among those under 30. On the Republican side, Donald Trump is far ahead with 44% support. Trailing by a huge margin are Ted Cruz (17%), Ben Carson (10%) and Marco Rubio (10%).
President Obama became a surprise topic of contention toward the end of the Democratic debate, as Hillary Clinton reminded viewers that Sanders had challenged the progressive bona fides of President Obama in 2011 and suggested that someone might challenge him from the left. “The kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans, I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama,” she said. “Madame Secretary, that is a low blow,” replied Sanders, before getting in another dig during his closing statement: “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.”
It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”
It’s been said in just about every news story since New Hampshire: the primaries are headed to states where Hillary Clinton will do well among minority voters. Leaving nothing to chance, she underscored that point in her opening statement in the Milwaukee debate tonight, saying more needs to be done to help “African Americans who face discrimination in the job market” and immigrant families. She also made an explicit reference to “equal pay for women’s work.” Those boxes she’s checking are no coincidence: if she wins women, blacks and Hispanics, she wins the nomination.