US, Russia Feud over Access to Syria Attack Site
Amid a fierce war of words between Russia and the US and its allies, Moscow has said that a team of chemical experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will inspect the site of a suspected poison gas attack in Syria on Wednesday.
The announcement came as Russia rejected US accusations of tampering with evidence in an investigation over the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government in Douma, near Damascus, on April 7.
Earlier, inspectors from the OPCW claimed to have been prevented by Syrian forces and their Russian backers from accessing the site earlier on Monday.
“Russia and Syria have not yet allowed access to Douma,” the British delegation said in a tweet on Sunday before adding that "unfettered access [is] essential.”
A statement by the director-general of the OPCW on Monday said that Syrian and Russian officials who “participated in the preparatory meetings in Damascus have informed the FFM [Fact-Finding Mission] that there were still pending security issues to be worked out before any deployment could take place.”
Al Jazeera reported that Syrian government forces retook Douma last week, gaining full control over the former rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta, Russian military officials announced at the time.
The announcement came just days after the Douma attack, following which the US, UK and France launched a coordinated missile strike on facilities believed to be used to research, develop and store chemical weapons inside Syria.