OPCW experts who have arrived in Syria to probe into a possible chemical attack in Douma plan to visit the site of the presumable incident on April 18, Igor Kirillov, the commander of Russia’s NBC defense forces, said on Monday after a meeting of the OPCW Executive Council, TASS reports.
He said the team of experts had arrived in Damascus at 19:00 local time on Saturday and had met with the Syrian side. In the first half of the day on Sunday, they discussed security aspects and work procedures and later spoke with two witnesses of the incident. On Monday, they met to discuss a route to reach Douma.
"The United Nations security service is to visit Douma tomorrow to conduct route reconnaissance and OPXW specialists are expected to reach the city on Wednesday," he said.
Earlier, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told journalists the OPCW experts were unable to reach Douma due to security considerations and condemned London’s attempts to blame Russian and Syria for hampering the experts’ visit.
Some non-governmental organizations, including White Helmets, claim that chemical weapons were used in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, on April 7. According to the statement uploaded to the organization’s website on April 8, chlorine bombs were dropped on the city to kill dozens and poison other local civilians who had to be brought to hospital.
The Russian foreign ministry dismissed that as fake news. The Russian defense ministry stated that White Helmets were an unreliable source, notorious for disseminating falsehoods. The Russian center for the reconciliation of conflicting parties on April 9 examined Douma to find no traces of chemical weapons.
OPCW inspectors arrived in Syria on April 14 but have not yet reached the site of presumable chemical attack. British Ambassador Peter Wilson said citing OPCW Director General Ahmet Uzumcu that Russia and Syria had failed to provide access to Douma for the OPCW experts being unable to give security guarantees.