France says evidence of Douma chemical attack likely disappearing in Syria

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By Middle East Affairs

France said Tuesday evidence is very likely to be disappearing from the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, Reuters said, and that international inspectors should be allowed “full and quick access to the site.”

After a suspected chemical weapons attack April 7 in Douma, the United States, Britain and France carried out joint air strikes in Syria in retaliation against President Bashar al-Assad, whom they blame for the attack.

Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) arrived in Syria last week to inspect the site, but have not been allowed to enter Douma, which Retuters said is under Syrian government control since rebel groups evacuated the area.

“As of today, Russia and Syria still refuse to give inspectors access to the site of the attack,” the French foreign ministry said in a statement. “It is very likely that proof and essential elements are disappearing from this site.”

Relief organizations reported that dozens of men, women and children were killed by the alleged attack.

“It is essential that Syria finally gives full, immediate and unfettered access to all of the OPCW’s demands, whether to visit sites, interview people or consult documents.”

In a closed-door OPCW meeting Monday in the Hague, U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Ward said Russia might have tampered with the evidence.

“It is our understanding the Russians may have visited the attack site,” he said in comments that were obtained by Reuters news agency.

“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,” he said.

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