April 21 (UPI) — International chemical weapons inspectors are headed to a Syrian town two weeks after the suspected attack, Russia’s foreign ministry said Saturday.
The team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons left Damascus for the nearby town of Douma.
Syria and Russia have denied they were responsible for the attack, which killed more than 80 people. On April 13, the United States, Britain and France fired 105 missiles at three Syrian government sites in retaliation for the suspected chemical attacks.
“Early on April 21, a special OPCW mission for finding traces of chemical weapons left for the city of Douma to the place of suspected use of toxic chemicals on April 7,” Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement. “We consider such delays in a notable case like that, for whatever reasons, to be unacceptable, since the security of the OPCW staff was ensured not only by the Syrian side, but also by the command of the Russian military forces in the Syrian Arab Republic.”
The nine-member OPCW team has been waiting in the Syrian capital for clearance to visit the town. They were supposed to enter the town on Wednesday but the visit was delayed because U.N. risk assessment team came under fire while checking sites Tuesday.
“We appeal to western colleagues to refrain from actions obstructing efforts to establish the truth regarding the provocation in Eastern Ghouta on April 7,” Zakharova said.
Jaish al-Islam group controlled the city on the day of the suspected chemical attack.
After the attack, the rebels withdrew under a deal with the Russian military.
Zakharova said Moscow expects OPCW’s investigation to be impartial.