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Inspectors blocked from chemical weapons attack site in Syria.

International inspectors have been blocked from accessing the site of a deadly chemical weapons attack because Russian and Syrian authorities said they are unable to guarantee the team’s safety, an independent global watchdog group said Monday. “The Syrian and the Russian officials who participated in the preparatory meetings in Damascus have informed the fact finding...
Time: 15:27     Date: 16.04.2018
Last US News: Inspectors blocked from chemical weapons attack site in Syria. NY Post 24 - US News

“The Syrian and the Russian officials who participated in the preparatory meetings in Damascus have informed the fact finding mission team that there were still pending security issues to be worked out before any deployment could take place,” said Ahmet Uzumcu, director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Uzumcu said the Syrian government instead offered OPCW inspectors the chance to interview 22 “witnesses who could be brought to Damascus.”

Speaking at an emergency meeting of the organization’s executive council in The Hague, Uzumcu confirmed the team had arrived in Damascus but have not been able to proceed to Douma, where the chemical attack killed dozens and injured hundreds more on April 7.

The US envoy to the OPCW said Russian troops may also have tampered with evidence at the site.

“It is our understanding the Russians may have visited the attack site. It is our concern that they may have tampered with it with the intent of thwarting the efforts of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission to conduct an effective investigation,” said US Ambassador Kenneth Ward.

“Unfettered access is essential,” the British delegation to the OPCW said in a statement. “Russia and Syria must cooperate.”

The Kremlin blamed the delay on the airstrikes conducted by the US, Britain and France on Saturday that targeted three Syrian facilities used in the manufacture of chemical weapons.

Russia, which has been supporting Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the seven-year-old civil war, and Syria have denied they carried out the chemical weapons attack.

Meanwhile, the White House pushed back at French President Emmanuel Macron for claiming that he persuaded President Trump to reverse his pledge and keep US troops in Syria.

“The U.S. mission has not changed – the president has been clear that he wants U.S. forces to come home as quickly as possible,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “We are determined to completely crush ISIS and create the conditions that will prevent its return. In addition, we expect our regional allies and partners to take greater responsibility both militarily and financially for securing the region. ”

Macron said on Sunday that he had told Trump that he should keep American forces in Syria for the “long term” after the president suddenly announced in a speech in Ohio last month that he wanted to pull out “very soon.”

Macron then pivoted to say he and Trump share the same viewpoint on Syria.

“The White House is right in saying that the military engagement is against Daesh and will stop the day the war against Daesh will be over. France has the same view,” Macron said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

With Post wires

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