ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Monday said a fact-finding mission to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons in eastern Ghouta had been stalled due to “security concerns.”
During an Executive Council meeting, OPCW Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü revealed that the full team of experts had arrived in Damascus on Saturday and met with Syrian authorities “to work out a plan for the deployment” into Douma where the attack occurred.
However, Üzümcü told the Council that the team had not yet deployed to Douma, citing Syrian and Russian officials who “informed the [Fact-Finding Team] that there were still pending security issues to be worked out before any deployment could take place.”
According to the OPCW Director-General, Syrian authorities offered 22 witnesses who could be brought to Damascus and interviewed in the meantime.
No timeline has been given for the deployment of the team to Douma.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denied allegations that the Syrian regime and its allies were trying to get rid of evidence before the OPCW arrives in Douma.
“I can guarantee that Russia has not tampered with the site,” he said in an interview with the BBC, adding that Moscow was in favor of “an impartial investigation.”
According to rescue workers, at least 50 people had died, and hundreds of others were injured in the alleged poison gas attack in Douma on April 7.
The assault, blamed on the Syrian regime, prompted the United States, and its allies the United Kingdom and France, to launch precision strikes on April 14 against bases in Syria where the attacks were suspected of being launched.