Inspectors reportedly collect samples following delays caused by Russia and Syria; US State Department addressed developments surrounding inspections; Nauert: Russia and Syria worked together to sanitize the locations of suspected attacks and remove incriminating evidence.
Chemical weapons inspectors collected samples from Douma, the location of a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens in April, following delays and attempts to destroy evidence by the Assad regime and Russia.
Inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arrived in Syria last week, but were not able to access sites while Russia and Syria attempted to “sanitize” the area.
US State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert spoke to the press on Thursday, confirming at the time that the inspectors were still not given access. She stated “we can confirm that the OPCW team has still not been able to enter Duma in Syria. It is now 12 days since the attack took place on men, women, and children, those innocent civilians, in Syria.”
She then reported that both Russia and Syria were attempting to clear the area of evidence, stating “We have credible information that indicates that Russian officials are working with the Syrian regime to deny and to delay these inspectors from gaining access to Duma. We believe it is an effort to conduct their own staged investigations. Russian officials have worked with the Syrian regime, we believe, to sanitize the locations of those suspected attacks and remove incriminating evidence of chemical weapons use.”
On the dozens of accounts from survivors and witnesses, she added “We have also watched as some people have seemingly been pressured by the government to change their stories about what actually occurred that night. We have reports from credible people on the ground who have indicated that they have been pressured by both Russia and Syria to change their stories, to try to change their stories so that it doesn’t appear that Russia and Syria are responsible for those attacks. We certainly know that Syria is responsible for those attacks.”
Meanwhile, three Belgian chemical companies sold illegal chemicals to Syria and Lebanon, violating European Union sanctions on Syria. Belgium customs filed a criminal case against the companies.
In February, it was discovered that the German company “Krempel” had legally sold military parts for making rockets to Iran. The company sold insulating material “Presspan PSP-3040”, which were later found with their “Made in Germany” label by a photographer in Syria. The parts were used to create chemical weapons by Iran that were provided to Assad and used on Syrian civilians in January 22 and February 1, 2018 chemical attacks.
Rebel forces continue to evacuate civilian populations from the Qalamoun region outside of Damascus over the weekend. The Syrian army is expected to retake a few towns over the coming days.
Photo: “Made in Germany”, Syrians for Truth and Justice, 2018