Moscow vows 'not to interfere' in OPCW's work in Syria: embassy

Pakistan       by Dawood Rehman | Published

Pakistan by Dawood Rehman | Published

Chemical-weapons inspectors have not yet been granted access to the site of a suspected gas attack in the Syrian town of Douma, the head of the global chemical-weapons watchdog says.

The attack on April 7, prompted military strikes on Syrian government targets by the US, Britain and France a week later.

Talks were held behind closed doors at the Netherlands seat of the Nobel Peace prize-winning Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, two days after its mission arrived in Damascus.

It was not known who carried out the attack, with Pentagon spokeswoman Heather Babb saying: "There are no U.S. or coalition operations in that area".

The United States, Britain and France carried out a wave of strikes against the Syrian regime on Saturday a week after the suspected deadly gas attack on the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma, in which 40 people were said to have been killed.

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OPCW director general Ahmet Uzumcu said his nine-strong, all-volunteer team had reached Damascus, but so far "the team has not yet deployed to Douma". Russian Federation says the United Nations ordered the visit stopped for security reasons, and Syrian officials say they've been meeting with the OPCW delegation.

"Investigators will look for evidence that shows whether the incident site has been tampered with", Trapp said, adding that they will also have to find ways of authenticating evidence that it presented to by third parties.

The Kremlin dismissed the claims.

Earlier, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told journalists the OPCW experts were unable to reach Douma due to security considerations and condemned London's attempts to blame Russian and Syria for hampering the experts' visit.

Russian Federation says that the Western claims were fabricated to justify strikes and that its forces have already investigated the site and found nothing.

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"They will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical-weapons use", Haley said.

The British delegation to the organization called for the inspectors to be given "unfettered access" to Douma, adding that "Russia and Syria must cooperate".

Despite polls showing scant support for the move, May said it had been her "responsibility as prime minister to make these decisions", while Macron also defended his move as part of his constitutional powers.

Its mission, which was requested by the Syrian government, is to determine whether chemical weapons were used but not who the perpetrator was.

Regime forces have now entered Douma and declared the entire Eastern Ghouta region around it fully retaken, ending a five-year siege and reclaiming an opposition bastion on the edge of the capital.

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