Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Inspectors of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will be able to access Douma, in eastern Ghouta, the scene of an alleged chemical weapons attack by the government army. The attack, denied by Russians and Syrians, provoked the joint response of the United States, France and the United Kingdom, with a series of raids over the last week that triggered an escalation of tension.
The international team of experts has been in the Arab country since April 14th, but until now had not been given the go-ahead to gain access to the territory that has just returned under the control of the Damascus government (with the help of Moscow). The British delegation denounced the blocking of the investigation into the chemical attack, accusing the Kremlin of wanting to delay the investigation.
It is now 11 days since the final act of the government offensive against the rebel stronghold (with jihadist infiltrations) on the outskirts of the capital. Experts will have to collect soil fragments and other components to ascertain the presence of chemicals.
US experts in the OPCW expressed concern about a possible “contamination” of evidence by the Russian military. An accusation rejected by Moscow, according to which the wait is due only to a technical “delay” and there has been no tampering. Sources from the Russian Foreign Ministry quoted by the Tass state news agency say that the delay “is due to the effects of the attack by the US and its allies”.
In an interview with the BBC, the head of Russian diplomacy Sergei Lavrov ensured that Moscow “did not tamper with” the area, rejecting the British accusations. He added that the alleged evidence provided by Washington, London and Paris is based only on “testimonies collected on social networks and in newspapers” and are all “fabricated”. Finally, Lavrov has harsh words of criticism of the three powers of the Western bloc who launched their retaliation before the OPCW experts carried out their independent investigation.
US sources reiterate the allegations, claiming to have collected samples of blood and urine from victims showing traces of chlorine and nerve gas.
Meanwhile, tension remains high even on the military level: the Syrian state TV spoke of a new missile attack overnight. Anti-aircraft aircraft shields reportedly reacted to missiles intercepted in the airspace of the Homs region. The attack would target a military air base on the outskirts of Shayrat. This is the same base targeted last year by the missile raid ordered by US President Donald Trump, in response to the chemical attack against the city of Khan Sheikhun.
Earlier Israel admitted that it had launched an attack between 8 and 9 April, where the t4 base was hit east of Homs.