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In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, soldiers and residents salute civilians after being released by the Army of Islam group that had been holding them since 2013, in Damascus, Syria, early Monday, April 9, 2018. Syrian state media is reporting that dozens of civilians who had been held for years by a rebel group near the capital Damascus have been freed. (SANA via AP)

Russia says no sign of gas attack in Syria town


BEIRUT (AP) — The Russian military says it has surveyed the Syrian town of Douma and found no trace of chemical weapons use there.

Opposition activists say 40 people died in Saturday night's chemical attack in the rebel-held town and blamed Syrian government forces. Images of wounded children have caused international outrage, with U.S. President Donald Trump warning that there would be "a big price to pay.

The Russian military's Reconciliation Center in Syria has been sending officers into Douma to negotiate with the rebels there. It says experts inspected the areas in Douma where chemical agents were allegedly used and found no trace of them. They also inspected Douma's hospital and found no patients with chemical poisoning symptoms.

The Russian military denounced the White Helmets, opposition-linked first responders who reported the attack and the death toll. It called them "shameless rebel accomplices," saying they made false allegations to derail a local truce.

Russia is a key ally of President Bashar Assad and has been waging an air campaign in support of his forces since 2015.

Syrian rescuers, medics say gas attack near capital kills 40

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