Syria: Chemical weapons inspectors are entering Douma, Russia says

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Chemical weapons inspectors from the international watchdog are on their way to the site of an alleged gas attack in the Syrian town of Douma, Russia has said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said a special commission from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) left this morning.

France has suggested that Syria and Russia may be covering up evidence of a chemical attack, and has demanded that international inspectors gain access to the town where it allegedly happened.

The team of inspectors had been delayed for several days in their attempts to reach Douma. 

The experts had arrived in Damascus last weekend to examine the site of the suspected attack, which killed dozens of people and led to US-led missile strikes on Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons.

French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday that Russia was obstructing the inspectors’ access to the town. He said it was likely the obstruction was aimed at ensuring that proof of the attack disappeared, adding that the OPCW must have full, immediate and unimpeded access to the site.

But Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, announced today that the team were on their way, and condemned he delay as “unacceptable”.

Moscow, whose forces in Syria back President Bashar Assad’s army, has denied Syrian forces carried out the alleged attack on April 7.