France says proof likely disappearing from Douma, inspectors must have full access

France says proof likely disappearing from Douma, inspectors must have full access

France says proof likely disappearing from Douma, inspectors must have full access

Global investigators will head on Wednesday to the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria that provoked a USA -led missile strike.

The team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons planned to take soil samples to find out whether poison gas was used.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported explosions were heard near Shayrat air base, southeast of Homs city, and near Damascus where two other air bases are located.

"I can guarantee that Russian Federation has not tampered with the site", Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the BBC.

On April 7, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime allegedly dropped chemical weapons on the town of Douma, where rebels were suspected to be hiding out.

The White house, which is apparently looking for a pretext to justify the missile attack, claims that Moscow has failed to abide by a 2013 promise to ensure that Syria gets rid of its chemical weapons stockpiles.

On Monday, OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said Syrian and Russian authorities had blocked its inspectors from going to Douma and instead offered them 22 people to interview as witnesses.

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The United States accused Russia on Monday of blocking worldwide inspectors from reaching the site of a suspected poison gas attack in Syria and said Russians or Syrians may have tampered with evidence on the ground.

Members of the Syrian police hold their weapons as they sit on a back of a truck in Douma, April 16, 2018.

"Tomorrow (Tuesday) the security services of the United Nations. will test the routes", a senior Russian official said at a press conference in the Russian embassy in The Hague, explaining that the roads were still being cleared of mines. He denied that Russian Federation was hampering the mission and suggested the approval was held up because of the Western airstrikes.

The whole media campaign promoting the idea of the OPCW investigation being "blocked" might be aimed at actually discrediting the potential results of the probe, which could prove to be inconsistent with the narrative promoted by the USA and its allies, security analyst and former UK Army officer Charles Shoebridge said, in a Twitter post. Israel did not confirm or deny it. Hours after the alleged chemical attack, the rebel faction that controlled the town, the Army of Islam, relented and was evacuated along with thousands of residents.

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".

At least 40 people are believed to have been killed in the attack. They found themselves turned away by Russian troops.

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