Covering Tracks

Russia May Have Tampered With Chemical Attack Site, Says U.S. Envoy

Russia gained access and may have tampered with the site of the chemical-weapons attack in Syria that triggered last week’s airstrikes against the country, a senior U.S. envoy claimed early Monday. Ambassador Kenneth Ward, U.S. envoy to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, warned other representatives of the global watchdog group at a closed-door meeting that he suspected Russia had attempted to hide evidence for the attack that killed more than 70. “It is long overdue that this council condemns the Syrian government for its reign of chemical terror and demands international accountability for those responsible for these heinous acts,” said Ward, in comments obtained by Reuters. “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.” The OPCW said Monday that Russia and Syria are blocking inspectors’ access to the site of the suspected chemical attack, and Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told the BBC: “I can guarantee that Russia has not tampered with the site.”