Russia has claimed chemical-weapons inspectors cannot access the site of a suspected attack in Syria without a United Nations permit, delaying efforts to establish what happened in Douma last weekend. The suspected chemical attack was the catalyst for U.S. and allies’ airstrikes in the country last week—which Russia also blamed for the delay in inspectors gaining access to the site. A team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW] arrived in Syria shortly before the airstrikes early Saturday and has met with Syrian officials, but has yet to visit the town at the center of the controversy. “It is the lack of approval by the U.N. Department for Safety and Security for OPCW experts to visit the site in Douma that is the problem,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Monday. He added: “As far as I understand what is hampering a speedy resolution of this problem is the consequences of the illegal, unlawful military action that Great Britain and other countries conducted on Saturday.” The OPCW’s U.S. envoy has expressed fears that Russia is attempted to tamper with the site of the alleged attack ahead of the inspection.
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