Chem­i­cal arms probe in Syria stalled due to 'se­cu­rity con­cerns'

The Free Press Journal - - WORLD -

Rus­sia and Syria have stalled ac­cess to Douma by in­ter­na­tional ex­perts seek­ing to probe an al­leged poi­son gas at­tack there, cit­ing se­cu­rity con­cerns, a Bri­tish diplo­mat said on Mon­day.

The claim came as the global chem­i­cal arms watch­dog held emer­gency talks on the al­leged atroc­ity, which prompted West­ern air strikes on Syria on Satur­day. The head of the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Chem­i­cal Weapons (OPCW), Ah­met Uzumcu, told the closed-door meet­ing his in­spec­tors had failed to gain ac­cess to the site so far, the Bri­tish am­bas­sador to the Nether­lands told.

Uzumcu said "the Syr­ian regime and the Rus­sians were cit­ing se­cu­rity con­cerns," am­bas­sador Peter Wil­son told a press con­fer­ence. The Rus­sians and Syr­i­ans "have not been able to guar­an­tee the se­cu­rity of the del­e­ga­tion to go to Douma at this point," Wil­son added, say­ing no time­line had been given for when they could visit. The talks at the OPCW's head­quar­ters come two days af­ter a wave of puni­tive mis­sile strikes in Syria launched by West­ern pow­ers af­ter the al­leged April 7 toxic arms at­tack on Douma.

The team had been ex­pected to be­gin their field work on Sun­day, but they met with of­fi­cials at their Da­m­as­cus ho­tel in­stead and a strict me­dia black­out was im­posed on their sched­ule.

The Krem­lin dis­missed claims that Rus­sia was im­ped­ing ac­cess."We con­sider such ac­cu­sa­tions against Rus­sia to be ground­less," Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, adding that Moscow was in favour of "an im­par­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion".

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