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Russia and Syria hinder inspectors from accessing the chemical attack area

A Russian spokesman claims that they will be able to go to Duma on Wednesday, five days after their arrival in the country

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Russia and Syria hinder inspectors from accessing the chemical attack area

Two days after its deployment in Damascus, team of inspectors sent by Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) remains unable to access Duma, a town located a dozen kilometers east of Syrian capital where past Day 7 A lethal attack with toxic gas was reported. The Syrian regime and its Russian military allies, which control last enclave evicted by opposition in rebel region of Guta Oriental, alleged security reasons to close way for international investigators. On Friday night, aircraft from United States, France and United Kingdom bombed Syrian Armaments research centers in response to attack in Duma. The spokesman for Russian Ministry of Defence has said on Monday that OPCW will be able to enter suburb of Damascus on Wednesday, reports Reuters.

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The Russians and Syrians had so far claimed that chemical weapons inspectors would urgently initiate ir evidence-garing mission in Duma, and in recent hours y had taken for granted in ir official communications that investigation was It was going to start up on an immediate basis. In contacts y held yesterday with OPCW team, y were limited to offering presence in Damascus of 22 alleged witnesses of Duma's chemical attack for questioning.

Emergency and health groups related to opposition to President Bashar al-Assad reported on day 7 that a chemical attack by regime had caused dozens of deaths — at least 40, according to his first reports — and hundreds of intoxicated By inhaling chlorine gas and sarin gas (nerve agent).

The United States, which headed last Friday punishment attack launched with France and United Kingdom against Syrian state facilities allegedly linked to chemical weapons program, has accused Russia and Syria of being blocking mission International. The American ambassador to OPCW, Kenneth Ward, expressed suspicions that Damascus and Moscow were trying to manipulate available evidence on ground.

Moscow, through Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Sergey Ryabkov, noted that er UN, on which OPCW's mission depends, which had not given permission to inspectors to travel to Duma. Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary General António Guterres, reported that organization monitoring prohibition of use of chemical weapons had necessary permits to proceed.

The OPCW team of researchers is made up of nine experts ready to start ir work. "Members of Syrian and Russian delegations who have participated in preparations for mission, in Damascus, point out that re are still security issues to be resolved before y are deployed," I assure in an official statement Ahmet UZUMCU, director general of The organization, meeting urgently at its official headquarters in The Hague.

Uzumcu urged all Member States "to share information about [chemical] incident." Sergey Lavrov, Russian foreign minister, denied any interference from his country in investigations. "I can guarantee that Russia has not altered evidence that may be on site of alleged incident," he told BBC. Peter Wilson, British representative to OPCW, also accused Damascus and Moscow of hindering work of Inspectors. Wilson also called Russian suggestion "ridiculous" that " United Kingdom has contributed to staging a fake chemical attack" in Duma.

The Director of OPCW emphasizes in his statement that it counts "with all support of Secretary General of United Nations", António Guterres. It also announced that it has called on World Health Organization (WHO) to "share information it has collected thanks to its collaborators on ground." According to who precisely, of about 70 killed in attack on Duma last April 7, 43 presented tables related to toxic substances.

The work of OPCW in 2013 after several chemical weapons attacks around Damascus led to El Asad regime committing itself to eliminating its declared arsenal, something that was carried out under UN supervision.


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