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The latest: Britain, France denounce Russia's claim as a "stunt"



BEIRUT – Latest news on developments in Syria (all times local):

3:10 pm

Britain and France condemn Russia's move as a trick and an "obscene masquerade" to produce Syrian witnesses, of which Russia says they were filmed in "staged videos" after a reported chemical weapons attack.

Thursday The briefing of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is considered an effort by Russia to discredit widespread reports of a chemical weapons attack of April 7 in the city of Douma, which killed more than 40 people and from the west of the government of President Bashar Assad was accused. Syria and Russia deny the allegations.

French Ambassador Philippe Lalliot says: "This obscene masquerade is not surprising the Syrian government, which has massacred and gassed its own people for the past seven years."

Britain's Ambassador, Peter Wilson, says he and other Western allies will not attend the briefing.

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11:50

Syrian state media report that government forces have penetrated into a Damascus neighborhood of the Islamic State group from different directions and captured buildings on several blocks of streets and tunnels used by extremists.

The state news agency SANA said on Thursday that dozens of IS fighters were killed in battles in the southern Damascus district of Hajar al-Aswad while ground forces were closely coordinated with the air force during the bombing of the area.

The opposition's British Syrian Human Rights Observatory said Syrian authorities ordered rebel groups into the southern suburbs of Damascus from Babila, Beit Sahm and Yalda to hand over front lines with IS in the area or get government fire.

The observatory said that the government wants to open new fronts against the IS to increase pressure on the extremists] Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed.


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