Weapons inspectors kept out of Douma
‘Security issues’ cited as team’s work is delayed
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