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Smoke billowing in bomb-shelled Douma, the former rebel-stronghold of Eastern Ghouta in Syria Smoke billowing in bomb-shelled Douma, the former rebel-stronghold of Eastern Ghouta in Syria  (AFP or licensors)

Russia insists ‘no evidence’ for chemical attack claims

Pope Francis on Sunday decried the ongoing violence in Syria saying “There is no good war or bad war. There is nothing, nothing, that can justify the use of such instruments of extermination against unarmed people and populations.” His words came as news was had of an alleged Russian-backed chemical attack in the town of Douma which killed dozens.

By Nathan Morley

A response from Moscow was swift.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said specialists had already visited the area of the alleged attack and did not find any trace of chlorine or any other chemical substance used against civilians.

In short, he said there was no evidence that an alleged chemical attack took place late Saturday, despite medical sources claiming dozens were killed by barrel bombs containing a lethal substance.

The attack in Douma was reported soon after Assad forces renewed their push on the last rebel enclave in eastern Ghouta.

Syria has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons.

Washington and Paris have both threatened a "joint, strong response.”

Meanwhile, Syrian and Russian authorities have claimed two Israeli jets flying over Lebanese air space opened an aerial attack on an air base in the Homes district on Monday.

There has been no comment from the Israeli military, but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – an independent monitoring group - said 14 people were killed, including troops from Iran.

Listen to Nathan Morley's report
09 April 2018, 17:10