EU ‘understands’ objectives in Syria airstrikes

(AP) — The Latest on developments following the U.S.-led airstrikes on Syria (all times local):
1:55 p.m.
The European Union said it “understands” the need for the coordinated U.S, French and British airstrikes against Syrian military targets over the weekend following the suspected April 7 chemical attack in Douma, a town just outside Damascus.
The 28 EU foreign ministers said in a joint statement that the strike was executed with “the sole objective to prevent further use of chemical weapons and chemical substances as weapons by the Syrian regime to kill its own people.”
The 28 said the current situation should now be used to turn to political negotiations and insisted that “there can be no military solution to the Syrian conflict.”
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1: 40 p.m.
Russia insists it is committed to let the U.N.-backed chemical weapons watchdog do its work in Syria to investigate the suspected chemical attack earlier this month in Douma, a town just east of Damascus.
Russia’s Embassy in the Netherlands, where the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is based, said in a statement that it “confirms its commitment to ensure” the security of the OPCW’s mission, which is working in Syria.
It also said Russia guarantees it won’t “interfere in its work.”
Western nations have criticized Russia for defending President Bashar Assad and denying a chemical attack by his forces took place.
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1:10 p.m.
A Syrian government official says his country is “fully ready” to cooperate with the fact-finding mission from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that’s in Syria to investigate the alleged chemical attack that triggered U.S.-led airstrikes.
Faisal Mekdad, Syria’s deputy foreign minister, said on Monday that government officials have met with the delegation, which has been in Damascus for three days, a number of times to discuss cooperation.
The OPCW arrived in Syria a day before the joint punitive airstrikes from the United States, Britain and France a week after the alleged chemical attack in Douma, where activists say more than 40 people were killed.
The OPCW mission has yet to visit Douma, where government and Russian police deployed soon after the rebels in the town surrendered following the chemical attack.
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1 p.m.
A key group of world and regional powers is meeting at the urgent request of Russia to discuss the long-troubled cease-fire in Syria in the wake of airstrikes by the West on Syria.
Russia requested the meeting of the International Syria Support Group’s cease-fire task force after the airstrikes in Syria over the weekend by the United States, France and Britain. Moscow, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, has sharply criticized the strikes.
Britain, France and the United States say they took the military action following alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad’s forces on a rebel-held area northeast of Damascus.
The task force is hosted by the U.N. Syria envoy’s Geneva office and is co-chaired by Russia and the United States. Participants of the task force rarely speak to the media.
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