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19 Apr, 2018 12:13

Militants blocking OPCW inspectors from ‘chem-attack’ site in Douma – Russian deputy FM

Militants blocking OPCW inspectors from ‘chem-attack’ site in Douma – Russian deputy FM

Militants are preventing the OPCW team from accessing Syria’s Douma, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov has said, adding that he suspects someone doesn’t want the site of the alleged chemical attack investigated.

"There are militants who terrorize citizens and, among other things, impede the normal work of representatives of the international community – the UN and the OPCW [Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons]. Someone does not want an objective professional investigation [to be carried out]," the diplomat told RIA Novosti on Thursday.

When asked if there is a security threat to the OPCW mission, the deputy minister said: “As events show, there is.”

The Syrian town of Douma was allegedly targeted by a chemical attack on April 7. The incident was reported by jihadist-linked groups, as well as the so-called ‘White Helmets,’ who operate only in militant-controlled areas.

The reports came under the media spotlight and were subsequently used by Western leaders to blame the Syrian government for the alleged use of chemical weapons. The allegations were firmly denied by both Damascus and Moscow. Russian specialists on the ground inspected the site of the purported attack but found neither traces of chemical weapons, nor any victims.

The lack of evidence and the absence of an OPCW probe did not stop the US, the UK and France launching missile attacks on Syria. The coordinated strikes came just ahead of the arrival of the chemical watchdog’s team and were condemned by Russia, among other countries. Moscow also voiced concerns that the move could be aimed at impeding any effort to get to the truth.

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