Tuesday, 14 August, 2018

OPCW starts emergency talks on Douma attacks

Fighter jets were seen taking off from a British Royal Air Force base in Cyprus early on Saturday Fighter jets were seen taking off from a British Royal Air Force base in Cyprus early on Saturday Credit AP
Melinda Barton | 17 April, 2018, 09:56

Russian Federation 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.

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

Separately, Syrian state television has reported a missile attack near Homs targeting Shayrat airbase.

Syrian and Russian authorities prevented independent investigators from going to the scene of a suspected chemical attack, the head of the chemical watchdog group said on Monday, blocking global efforts to establish what happened and who was to blame.

It marks one of the biggest victories yet for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Despite a U.S. -Russian agreement to completely eliminate Syria's chemical weapons program after hundreds of people were gassed with sarin in Ghouta on August 21, 2013, the OPCW had been unable to verify that all manufacturing, storage and research facilities were destroyed.

The United States, Britain and France carried out a wave of strikes against the Syrian regime on Saturday a week after the suspected deadly gas attack on the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma, in which 40 people were said to have been killed. I'm sure Russian Federation 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.

Moscow blamed the delay on the air strikes, in which the United States, France and Britain targeted what the Pentagon said were three chemical weapons facilities.

"They will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical-weapons use", Haley said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mokdad said several coordination meetings were held with the OPCW team but he did not provide any further details as their schedule.

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.

The OPCW received the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to eliminate chemical weapons in 2013 as it pressed a campaign that resulted the following year in the destruction of Syria's declared stockpiles.

Rebels had captured it in 2012, and Syrian government fighters had not entered it since.

Despite a US-Russian agreement to completely eliminate Syria's chemical weapons program after hundreds of people were gassed with sarin in Ghouta on August 21, 2013, the OPCW had been unable to verify that all manufacturing, storage and research facilities were destroyed. Photographs and video from Douma documented victims suffering from symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals, such as asphyxiation and foaming at the mouth, the officials said.