Russia’s deputy foreign minister says foreign-backed terrorists in Syria have been preventing inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) from reaching the Damascus suburb town of Douma.
Mikhail Bogdanov warned on Thursday that Douma militants still pose a threat to both citizens and the OPCW experts.
“The recent events show that, unfortunately, the [threat] remains … There are militants who intimidate citizens and, in particular, interfere with the work of representatives of the international community – the United Nations and the OPCW. Someone does not want an unbiased professional investigation to take place,” he said.
The OPCW inspectors recently traveled to Syria to inspect the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma on April 7.
The incident was used as a pretext by the US, Britain and France to launch a coordinated missile attack against sites and research facilities near Damascus and Homs with the purported goal of paralyzing the Syrian government’s capability to produce chemicals.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry denounced the tripartite strikes as a “brutal, barbaric aggression” aimed at blocking a probe by the OPCW into the Douma incident.
Moscow maintains that it has “irrefutable” evidence that the suspected gas attack was a “false flag” operation orchestrated by British spy services.
Russia says a suspected chemical attack in Syria’s Douma was a “false flag” operation orchestrated by the UK security services.
On Wednesday, a UN security team came under fire while doing reconnaissance for the OPCW inspectors to visit the site of the alleged Douma gas attack.
OPCW Director General Ahmet Uzumcu said the UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) team had been forced to withdraw from Douma, thus delaying the OPCW inspectors’ access to the town.
“On arrival at site one, a large crowd gathered and the advice provided by the UNDSS was that the reconnaissance team should withdraw,” he said. “At site two, the team came under small arms fire and an explosive was detonated. The reconnaissance team returned to Damascus.”
Last week, Syrian soldiers managed to enter Douma for clean-up operations days after they fully retook the town from foreign-sponsored militants.
Douma was the last militant stronghold in the Eastern Ghouta region, which for years served as a launch pad for deadly terror attacks against civilians in the Syrian capital.
The Douma liberation came after the withdrawal of the members of the so-called Jaish al-Islam terrorist group under a Russia-mediated agreement with the government.