The UN OPCW team, authorized and sent from the UN, has been blocked from reaching the attack site. Russia and Syrian forces, citing “security concerns”, are preventing the UN team from performing its job. Russia has offered for the OPCW team to interview 22 witnesses. Chemical weapons team kept from alleged attack site in Syria
Everything Russia is doing builds the appearance of guilt in being complicit in covering up Syrian use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people in order to wipe out the last town full of rebels.
Russian denials follow the same old tired checklist.
Russia and Syria are trying “to conceal the facts” of the latest chemical weapons attack against rebels outside Damascus, according to United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May.
“The Syrian regime has reportedly been seeking to conceal the evidence by searching evacuees from Douma to ensure samples are not being smuggled from this area, and a wider operation to conceal the facts of the attack is underway, supported by the Russians,” May told the British House of Commons on Monday.
May aired that accusation after the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced that a team of investigators had deployed to Syria, only to be barred from the site of the attack due to “pending security issues.” The role of the OPCW investigators has been a central part of the debate between Russian and western diplomats over the last several days, as Russia denied that any gas attack had taken place and tried to forestall western airstrikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
“It would be possible to make greater efforts on the ground to establish now what has happened in Douma if Russia and the regime were not blocking the opportunity for the OPCW to go to the site, and if efforts were not being made by the regime to ensure that material from the site is not available for that sort of analysis,” May added.
Russian officials maintain that the United Kingdom faked the apparent evidence for the latest attack, which reportedly killed dozens of civilians and injured hundreds more, and then rushed to attack Assad before the OPCW investigation could take place.
“We see that they need no objective investigation,” Alexander Shulgin, the Russian ambassador to the OPCW, said Monday. “They put entire blame on the Syrian authorities beforehand, even before the OPCW mission reached the site to find out possible evidence to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.”
May emphasized that the OPCW is not empowered to assess who is responsible for apparent chemical weapons attacks, because Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that would allow a body of international investigators to make such attributions. She also dismissed Russian arguments that the attack was staged, citing humanitarian reports that hundreds of civilians reported to hospitals following the attacks.
“We do not think that these reports could be falsified on this scale,” she said. “The opposition does not operate helicopters or use barrel bombs. [ISIS] does not even have a presence in Douma, and the reports of this attack are consistent with previous regime attacks.”