The director-general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has delivered an update to the body’s executive council regarding the investigation into the Douma attack.
The OPCW considered initial reports of a chemical attack “credible”, following preliminary analysis, Ahmet Üzümcü said, and set up an investigative team (FFM) two days afterward.
On 10 April, the OPCW told its Syrian delegation it planned to deploy investigators to Douma “as early as possible”, and received an acknowledgment and request that they attend the same day.
Russia’s ambassador and Syria’s vice foreign minister echoed that request, Mr Üzümcü said.
The same day the UN secretary-general expressed “full support for the work of the OPCW in Syria and promised to provide all assistance we may need”, Mr Üzümcü’s statement said, while the UN’s safety and security department (UNDSS) was closely involved.
It continued: “An advance group of three experts from the FFM arrived in Beirut on Thursday, while the remaining six members joined them on Friday.
“The full team received a security briefing from UNDSS in Beirut on Friday. On Saturday the team proceeded to Damascus, where they
met with officials of the National Authority to work out a plan for the deployment.
“The team has not yet deployed to Douma. The Syrian and the Russian officials who participated in the preparatory meetings in Damascus have informed the FFM team that there were still pending security issues to be worked out before any deployment could take place.
“In the meantime the team was offered by the Syrian authorities that they could interview 22 witnesses who could be brought to Damascus.”
On Monday Russia said that the team’s deployment had been delayed because it did not have a UNDSS permit, and because of Saturday’s air strikes, amid accusations it was blocking access.
The Kremlin has denied it has tampered with the site of the alleged chemical attack.