Security problems prevent specialists to investigate alleged chemical attack in Duma

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Photo: EFE

(Caracas, April 16 – News24) .- Researchers from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), in Syria since Saturday, have not been able to access the city of Duma for “security problems” and is expected to arrive on Wednesday to investigate about the alleged chemical attack, the Russian embassy reported on Monday.
“On Wednesday, we await the arrival of the OPCW experts,” a senior Russian official told a news conference at the Russian embassy in The Hague, explaining that the routes leading to the Duma had to be demined.
Earlier, during the day, the OPCW Director, Ahmet Uzumcu, declared at an emergency meeting of the Member States of the Executive Council that “the team has not yet been deployed in Duma,” as he explained, Syria and Russia had alleged “security problems”.
On the other hand, the United States said it suspects that Russia may have visited the site of an alleged chemical attack in Duma and “falsified” the evidence, the US ambassador to the OPCW said on Monday.
“The Russians could have visited the site of the attack. We fear that they have manipulated it to hinder the efforts of the mission of the OPCW to conduct an effective investigation, “said Ambassador Ken Ward during an OPCW meeting.
The alleged chemical attack on April 7 in Duma – then last rebel stronghold – continues to mobilize the major powers after the United States on Saturday carried out a coordinated bombing with France and the United Kingdom against suspicious targets of storing chemical weapons in Syria.
In the presence of the French, British and Russian ambassadors, Uzumcu declared in The Hague, headquarters of the OPCW, that the “Syrians and Russians alleged security problems” , according to the British ambassador in Holland, Peter Wilson.
Uzumcu “has also stated that the Syrian regime had offered 22 witnesses to the OPCW investigators in Damascus,” Wilson added during a press conference after the OPCW meeting, two days after the attacks on military sites of the Bashar regime. al Asad.
The obstruction of Moscow and Damascus?
Moscow, a great ally of the Syrian regime, pledged to “not interfere” in the work of the mission, officially invited by the authorities of Damascus, who deny all responsibility in the drama of Duma.
After the western attacks, the diplomatic path on the Syrian issue has been resumed, a country devastated since 2011 by a war that has caused more than 350,000 deaths.
The OPCW delegation sent a team of experts to the site on Saturday. In Damascus they have held meetings with officials of the regime, but they have not yet been given access to Duma.
The Kremlin on Monday described as “baseless” accusations that Russia would have blocked access. The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, stressed that Russia wanted from the beginning “an impartial investigation”.
The United Kingdom urged the OPCW to “demand accounts from the attackers” , otherwise the world would risk “other barbaric uses of chemical weapons, in Syria and other places.”
“The Syrian regime has the odious reputation of using chemical weapons against its own people,” said British Ambassador Peter Wilson, appealing to the OPCW member states to assume their “responsibilities”.
In the Syrian capital, the fief of the regime, thousands of people flooded on Monday the Plaza de los Omeyas, closed to traffic for the occasion, waving Syrian flags and portraits of President Asad to denounce the Western attacks.
A “clandestine” chemical program
The work is expected to be complicated for the investigators, who arrive more than a week after the events in an area that has since been under the control of the Syrian army and the Russian military police, where demining operations are under way.
From now on the priority is the total dismantling of the Syrian chemical program , according to the French ambassador in The Hague.
“The facts are there and they are obstinate. They resist the grossest lies and the most absurd denials, “said Philippe Lalliot, adding that there were no further doubts:” Syria has kept a clandestine chemical program since 2013. ”
That year, after the sarin attack in Guta, which had already caused several hundred deaths, the Syrian regime had ended up joining the OPCW due to international pressure, and formally undertook to declare all their existences and never use chemical weapons.
With information of AFP

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