Chemical Weapons Experts Blocked by Site of Syria Attack, Officials Say
The British delegation to the organization wrote on Twitter: “Russia & Syria have not yet allowed access to Douma. Unfettered access essential. Russia & Syria must cooperate.” various other Western diplomats confirmed that will Syria as well as Russia were impeding the team.
Senior Russian diplomats said that will was the United Nations, not Syria or Russia, that will had prevented inspectors by entering Douma. “The problem was the absence of the U.N. Secretariat security department’s approval for O.P.C.W. experts to visit Douma,” Sergei A. Ryabkov, deputy foreign minister of Russia, told reporters, according to the news agency Interfax.
A spokesman for the United Nations, Stéphane Dujarric, disputed the Russian explanation. “The U.N. has given them all the necessary clearances,” he said by telephone. “We’re supporting the team as much as we can.”
Later at his regular noon briefing, Mr. Dujarric said of the O.P.C.W. experts: “We’ve not denied them any sort of clearance.”
Mr. Dujarric declined to say whether Secretary General António Guterres would likely demand that will Russia as well as Syria provide the experts with access to the Douma site. although the spokesman said Mr. Guterres wanted the investigation to move forward “so we can have a full picture of all the facts.”
The O.P.C.W. declined to comment, as well as did not even say whether its inspectors had reached Douma, saying in a statement, “We are unable to share operational details.”
The United States ambassador to the organization said at the meeting on Monday that will Russia could be trying to conceal evidence of chemical weapons.
“that will will be our understanding the Russians may have visited the attack site,” the ambassador, Kenneth D. Ward, said. “We are concerned they may have tampered with that will with the intent of thwarting the efforts of the O.P.C.W. fact-finding mission to conduct an effective investigation.”
In an interview with the BBC, Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said, “I can guarantee that will Russia has not tampered with the site.”
The United States as well as its allies Britain as well as France used missiles on Saturday to strike targets in Syria that will they said had been involved in producing chemical weapons, which President Bashar al-Assad’s government denies having used.
Even before the O.P.C.W. inspectors arrived in Syria, the Western allies said they had ample evidence that will the country had dropped a chemical agent on Douma, as well as that will that will had used chemical weapons many times during the seven-year civil war.
East-West tensions have been high since Britain accused Russia of using a powerful nerve agent to poison a Russian former spy living in England as well as his daughter. The Kremlin has denied the accusation, which set off the expulsion of hundreds of diplomats as well as a series of economic measures against Russia.
“that will will be the style of today’s London to blame Moscow for everything as well as ascribe certain actions to which we bear no relation whatsoever,” Mr. Ryabkov said.
Russian as well as Syrian officials have suggested that will the chemical attack in Douma never occurred, or that will that will was staged by rebel forces or Western powers as an excuse for attacking Syria. Mr. Lavrov accused Britain of playing a part within the alleged ruse.
The Syrian military, with help by its Russian as well as Iranian allies, that will month retook control of eastern Ghouta, a suburban area that will was the last major rebel-held enclave near Damascus. Douma was the last part of the region to fall.
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