Chemical arms probe in Syria stalled due to security

Russia and Syria have stalled access to Douma by international experts seeking to probe an alleged poison gas attack there, citing security concerns. 

The claim came as the global chemical arms watchdog held emergency talks on the alleged atrocity, which prompted Western air strikes on Syria on Saturday. 

The head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Uzumcu, told the closed-door meeting that his inspectors had failed to gain access to the site so far. 

The talks at the OPCW’s headquarters come two days after a wave of punitive missile strikes in Syria launched by Western powers after the alleged April 7 toxic arms attack on Douma. 

The team had been expected to begin their fieldwork yesterday, but they met with officials at their Damascus hotel instead and a strict media blackout was imposed on their schedule. The Kremlin dismissed claims that Russia was impeding access.

The missiles that US, French and British warships fired on suspected chemical facilities on Saturday constituted the biggest Western attack against the regime in the seven-year war.

Earlier, Moscow vowed Monday not to interfere in the work of a fact-finding mission sent to Syria by the global chemical arms watchdog to probe an alleged poison gas attack in Douma. 

The Russian Embassy in The Hague slammed the United States, saying the weekend strikes by the US, France and Britain on three facilities in Syria were a bid to undermine the credibility of the mission.