OPCW inspectors to be allowed in to Douma

POLITICS.jpg

A team of worldwide inspectors entered the town near Damascus that was the scene of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria on Tuesday, Syrian state TV reported.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has also firmly denied accusations from the USA that there has been any interference with evidence at the site of the suspected Syrian chemical attack which led to Saturday's strikes.

She told MPs in the House of Commons that there was "clear evidence" the Bashar al-Assad government was behind a recent chemical weapons attack in Douma and it had been necessary to go ahead with the action without recalling Parliament for a vote on the issue to maintain the "vital security" of the military operation.

President Donald Trump, joined by France and Britain, launched what he called "precision strikes" against alleged Syrian chemical weapons facilities in response to the purported chlorine and nerve agent attack.

Less than two days later, the Army of Islam rebels surrendered the town, which was the last stronghold in the once rebellious eastern Ghouta region at the doorstep of Damascus.

Ken Ward, US ambassador to the OPCW, claimed on Monday that the Russians had already visited the site and "may have tampered with it".

The Group of Seven leading industrialized nations has issued a joint statement endorsing the USA -led air strikes in Syria. Back in 2014, Syria surrendered its stockpiles of chemical weapons to a joint mission led by the United States and the OPCW, which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry.

Maj Gen Yuri Yevtushenko, of the military's Reconciliation Centre in Syria, said Russian military police were ready to help protect the experts on their visit to Douma, outside Damascus. He said the inspectors can not access the site because it needs permission from United Nations security experts.

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Medical student Marwan Jaber said no chemical weapons were used on April 7.

On April 16, the head of the global chemical-weapons watchdog said that inspectors had not yet been granted access to the site.

The Kremlin also denied that Russian Federation was not allowing the OPCW mission in.

"Not even a day passed after the missile strikes when their organizers started putting forward odd and political initiatives", Nebenzia said. A unusual smell lingered, nine days after the attack.

More than 11 days have passed since a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria left dozens of people dead, yet it is still unclear when independent investigators will gain access to the site to work out what happened.

Separately, the AP spoke to a medic who was among those who later were evacuated to northern Syria. He said he tried to enter the shelter but was overcome by a strong smell of chlorine and his comrades pulled him out.

Medical charities operating in opposition-held parts of Syria have dismissed those statements as propaganda, given under duress now that government forces control the town.

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