Publicado: Mar, Abril 17, 2018
Global | Por Milagro Delgado

OPCW experts expected to arrive in Douma on Wednesday

OPCW experts expected to arrive in Douma on Wednesday

"Russia confirms its commitment to ensure safe (sic) and security of the mission and will not interfere in its work", the Russian embassy in The Hague said in a tweet.

Expectations were that the inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) would enter Douma on Monday, but this did not happen.

The US launched military strikes on Friday night, alongside United Kingdom and French forces, aimed at reducing the Syrian regime's chemical weapons facilities.

Russia's foreign minister has claimed a suspected chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma last weekend was fabricated with the help of an unspecified foreign intelligence agency.

The British delegation to the organization called for the inspectors to be given "unfettered access" to Douma, adding that "Russia and Syria must cooperate".

In the fraught aftermath of the suspected attack in Douma and the West's response, Washington also prepared to increase pressure on Russia, Syrian regime leader Bashar al-Assad's main ally, with new economic sanctions.

The targeted sites were largely empty but US President Donald Trump hailed a "perfectly executed" operation.

Despite polls showing scant support for the move, May said it had been her "responsibility as prime minister to make these decisions", while Macron also defended his move as part of his constitutional powers.

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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 United Kingdom delegation said.

Its mission, which was requested by the Syrian government, is to determine whether chemical weapons were used but not who the perpetrator was.

A Russian veto at the United Nations last November means the OPCW is empowered only to state if chemical weapons have been used, and not to attribute responsibility. For over a week now, Syrian government flags have flown over Douma, the biggest town in the agricultural Eastern Ghouta region near Damascus, since rebels there surrendered after five years of siege.

Even though the OPCW team was not allowed in, the Syrian authorities organised a tour of the town for the foreign press, including AFP. "Suffocation cases arrived as a result of the debris, dust, fire and smoke".

But "strangers entered as we were in a state of chaos and spread a rumour among people there had been a chemical attack, and people became alarmed".

The global chemical weapons organisation has recorded more than 390 alleged incidents of illicit use of poisonous munitions in Syria since 2014, the British envoy to the organisation said on Monday, calling for members to take collective action.

Russian ambassador Shulgin repeated the accusations telling reporters in The Hague that Douma residents had not been able to produce "a single body".

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