Russia, Syria not yet allowed OPCW team into Douma: UK embassy

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Russia and Syria have not yet allowed a fact-finding mission from the world's chemical weapons watchdog to enter Douma to probe allegations of a gas poison attack, the British embassy here said Monday.

The head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Uzumcu, had briefed emergency talks about the deployment of the team, which arrived Saturday in Damascus.

But "Russia & Syria have not yet allowed access to Douma. Unfettered access essential," the British delegation to the OPCW based in The Hague said in a tweet.

British ambassador to the Netherlands, Peter Wilson, urged Monday's meeting "to act to hold perpetrators to account", saying failure to do so "will only risk further barbaric use of chemical weapons, in Syria and beyond".

"The time has come for all members of this executive council to take a stand," Wilson said, adding "too many duck the responsibility that comes with being a member of this council".

He repeated that Britain, together with the United States and France, on Saturday had struck at a "limited set of targets".

They included "a chemical weapons storage and production facility, a key chemical weapons research centre and a military bunker involved in chemical weapons attacks".

"Hitting these targets will significantly degrade the Syrian regime's ability to research, develop and deploy chemical weapons," Wilson said.

Since Syria joined the OPCW in 2013, "we have sought to use diplomatic channels ... to stop chemical weapons use in Syria but our efforts have been repeatedly thwarted," Wilson said.

It was "shameful" that a lack of accountability for the April 2017 attack on Khan Sheikhun "can only have reassured the Syrian regime that the international community was not serious in its stated commitment to uphold the norm against chemical weapons use," he added.


© 2018 AFP

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