Inspectors with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) traveled to Syria over the weekend to inspect the site in Douma where a chemical weapons attack took place. But so far the Russians and Syrians are not allowing the inspectors access to the site. From the Guardian:
The director-general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons told a meeting of the OPCW executive council that inspectors had not been allowed to visit the town outside Damascus, the UK delegation said.
According to Petter Lycke, Sweden’s representative at the OPCW executive council, Syria and Russia told the inspectors that their safety could not be guaranteed…
In remarks that could indicate an attempt to bog down the OPCW team, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said the inspectors will not be allowed to access the site until they produce an appropriate UN permit.
Russian military officials were at the site of the Douma attack days before the OPCW reached Damascus, leading to fears that the site might have been tampered with.
As far as the permits are concerned, the UN says the inspectors have already been given all the permits they require. The British delegation of the OPCW inspection team tweeted that Russia and Syria were not cooperating with the inspectors.
#OPCW Director Gen briefs Exec Council on his Fact Finding Mission’s deployment to 🇸🇾 to investigate #Douma chem weapon attack. OPCW arrived in Damascus on Saturday. Russia & Syria have not yet allowed access to Douma. Unfettered access essential. Russia & Syria must cooperate.
— UK Delegation OPCW (@UK_OPCW) April 16, 2018
Russia is denying any attempt to prevent access or scrub the site and is instead blaming the delay on the U.S. led airstrikes. From the Telegraph:
Russia immediately denied the British allegations and said the OPCW visit to Douma had been delayed because of the Western airstrikes against the Syrian regime early Saturday morning.
“This is the latest conjecture of our British colleagues,” said Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister. The Russian embassy in the Netherlands, where the OPCW is based, said that Russia would not “interfere in its work”.
The Syrian regime also said it was “fully ready” to cooperate with the OPCW investigation.
Faisal Mekdad, Syria’s deputy foreign minister, said on Monday that government officials have met with the delegation, which has been in Damascus for three days, a number of times to discuss cooperation.
So Russian soldiers have been there for a week but, for some reason, inspectors can’t go in because of precision attacks that took place three days ago. Meanwhile, Russia’s RT network is spreading the claim made by Russia that the Douma attack was a false flag orchestrated by the United States:
“We have not just a ‘high level of confidence,’ as our Western partners uniformly put it; we have irrefutable proof that there was no chemical attack in Douma on April 7,” Russia’s Ambassador to the Organization for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons Aleksandr Shulgin said at a special meeting of the UN chemical watchdog’s executive council. The diplomat added that the incident had been a “pre-planned false-flag attack by the British security services, which could have also been aided by their allies in Washington.”
“Things unfolded according to the pre-written scenario prepared by Washington. There’s no doubt, the Americans play ‘first fiddle’ in all of this,” Shulgin said, adding that “attack” was staged by “pseudo-humanitarian NGOs,” which are under the patronage of the Syrian government’s foreign adversaries.
Well, that certainly sounds completely convincing and legitimate. I’m sure Russia will be providing that irrefutable proof any day now, just as soon as they finish scrubbing the Douma site of any evidence and blocking inspectors from doing their jobs.