In­spec­tors shut out of at­tack site

The Dominion Post - - World -

SYRIA: Syr­ian and Rus­sian au­thor­i­ties pre­vented in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tors from go­ing to the scene of a sus­pected chem­i­cal weapons at­tack, the head of the chem­i­cal watch­dog group said yes­ter­day, block­ing in­ter­na­tional ef­forts to es­tab­lish what hap­pened and who was to blame.

The United States and France say they have ev­i­dence that poi­son gas was used in the April 7 at­tack in the op­po­si­tion-held town of Douma, which killed dozens of peo­ple, and that Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad’s mil­i­tary was be­hind it. They, along with Britain, have bom­barded sites they said were linked to Syria’s chem­i­cal weapons pro­gramme.

Syria and its ally Rus­sia deny that a chem­i­cal at­tack took place. Rus­sian of­fi­cials have gone even fur­ther, ac­cus­ing Britain of stag­ing a ‘‘fake’’ chem­i­cal at­tack.

The lack of ac­cess to Douma by in­spec­tors from the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Chem­i­cal Weapons (OPCW) has left unan­swered ques­tions about the at­tack.

OPCW Direc­tor-Gen­eral Ah­met Uzumcu said Syr­ian and Rus­sian of­fi­cials cited ‘‘pend­ing se­cu­rity is­sues’’ in keeping its in­spec­tors from reach­ing Douma. In­stead, Syr­ian au­thor­i­ties had of­fered them 22 peo­ple to in­ter­view as wit­nesses.

Uzumcu said he hoped ‘‘all nec­es­sary ar­range­ments will be made . . . to al­low the team to de­ploy to Douma as soon as pos­si­ble’’.

Igor Kir­illov, a Rus­sian chem­i­cal weapons pro­tec­tion ex­pert in The Hague, said the team was set to visit the site to­mor­row.

Syr­ian state-run me­dia re­ported that the coun­try’s air de­fences con­fronted a new ‘‘ag­gres­sion’’, shoot­ing down mis­siles over the cen­tral re­gion of Homs yes­ter­day.

The re­ports did not say who car­ried out the pre-dawn strikes, which tar­geted the Shayrat air base in Homs.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.