Chemical weapons watchdog group initially denied access to site of attack in Douma

by WorldTribune Staff, April 18, 2018

A team of independent investigators were reportedly prevented from entering the site of the suspected chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria.

An OPCW team was expected to begin collecting samples April 18 at the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria. / Reuters

The investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), based in The Hague, were denied access to the site on April 16 by Syrian and Russian authorities, according to a report by The Associated Press.

They OPCW team has been tasked with investigating the site of the April 7 attack in Douma, just east of the capital Damascus, which Western powers said involved chlorine and sarin and killed dozens of people.

OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said Syrian and Russian officials cited “pending security issues” in keeping its inspectors from reaching Douma.

“The team has not yet deployed to Douma,” Uzumcu told an executive council meeting of the OPCW in The Hague, according to AP.

Instead, Syrian authorities offered them 22 people to interview as witnesses, Uzumcu said, adding that he hoped “all necessary arrangements will be made … to allow the team to deploy to Douma as soon as possible.”

Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari told a meeting of the UN Security Council on April 17 that the team of investigators would begin work on April 18 once they receive the all-clear from the security detail.

“If this United Nations security team decides that the situation is sound in Douma then the fact-finding mission will begin its work in Douma tomorrow,” Jaafari told the council in New York, according to AFP.

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