Herald Middle East

Syria Chemical Weapons Investigation Put On Hold

Following the Syrian chemical attacks, a team of international chemical weapons inspectors were scheduled to visit the site of the alleged poison gas attack to gain more insight about the situation and see just how devastating the results were. This international chemical weapons inspectors visit has been delayed due to security and safety concerns after a United Nations advance security team came under fire in the area.

Even 11 days after the alleged attack, it’s still unclear when the team of inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will be able to get to the Damascus suburb of Douma. Douma is the area where according to the U.S and its allies say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces killed over 40 people in a chemical weapons strike on the 7th of April with Russia’s backing which has escalated the situation radically.

OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu state that The security team “came under small arms fire and an explosive was detonated” at one of the two sites the team visited. Luckily, no one was injured in the attack which led to the U.N. team returning to Damascus. While the Syrian media does claim that the chemical weapons inspectors arrived in Damascus over the weekend, conflicting reports are coming in from a Syrian diplomat that say that only the U.N. security team had arrived.

The team is working with the OPCW inspectors, to determine when they can safely carry out the first inspection of the site to determine just what kind of weapon was used and assess the damage. As of now, it’s still unclear who took the shots or detonated the explosives in Douma on Tuesday. It wouldn’t be surprising for most of the top brass to consider the Syrian Government to be responsible since Syrian and Russian forces have declared the town liberated from rebels forces and under their control.

As of now, we aren’t certain how long the delay will be for the inspectors to visit Douma but even if they do manage to get in any time soon it’s highly likely that any evidence they do find could potentially be useless.  U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Monday that the United Nations had “provided the necessary clearances for the OPCW team to go about its work in Douma.”

Karen Pierce, Britain’s U.N. ambassador, told the Security Council that she will call an emergency meeting if necessary in case the group of the OPCW inspectors doesn’t make it into Douma soon.


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