Weapons in­spec­tors kept out of Douma

‘Se­cu­rity is­sues’ cited as team’s work is de­layed

The Arizona Republic - - USA Today - John Ba­con and Kim Hjelm­gaard

The in­ter­na­tional chem­i­cal weapons watch­dog that sent a fact-find­ing team to Syria said Mon­day that Syr­ian and Rus­sian of­fi­cials blocked ef­forts to reach the site where rebels claim govern­ment forces un­leashed chem­i­cal weapons against civil­ians.

The Or­ga­ni­za­tion for the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Chem­i­cal Weapons (OPCW) said the team ar­rived in Da­m­as­cus on Satur­day and met with govern­ment of­fi­cials to work out a plan for de­ploy­ment to Douma.

The Syr­ian and Rus­sian of­fi­cials in­formed the team that “pend­ing se­cu­rity is­sues” needed to be worked out be­fore the group went to Douma, the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s di­rec­tor gen­eral, Ah­met Üzümcü, told an emer­gency meet­ing of the group’s ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil in The Hague, Nether­lands.

“I hope that all nec­es­sary ar­range­ments will be made through the UNDSS to al­low the team to de­ploy to Douma as soon as pos­si­ble,” Üzümcü said, re­fer­ring to the U.N. De­part­ment of Safety and Se­cu­rity.

Rus­sia ini­tially blamed the de­lay on the United Na­tions, say­ing it had not pro­vided the proper ap­provals. The UNDSS, how­ever, said it had pro­vided the nec­es­sary clear­ances.

The Syr­ian govern­ment de­nies the ac­cu­sa­tion that it launched a chem­i­cal weapons at­tack on the town of Douma. LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES

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