“It was Russia that supported the request of the Syrian government to the Director General of the Technical Secretariat of the [Organization for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons] to send … experts to Douma,” the ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova said, dismissing the media allegations.
“We will not indulge the authors of these fake reports,” Zakharova added, explaining that the Russian side “does its part of the work in a very responsible, professional and reliable manner.” She stressed that it is Russia and Syria that bear the responsibility for the security of the OPCW experts.
Those who still want to accuse the Syrian and Russian authorities of neglecting their duties, by “blocking” the experts from accessing the site of the alleged chemical attack, apparently are willing to risk the OPCW investigators’ lives to promote their “dirty fake news,”Zakharova said.
It was after the strikes launched by the US, the UK and France against Syria, when the most radical militant groups renewed active hostilities against the Syrian Army in the Douma region.
The coalition attack also forced the Syrian authorities and the Russian military to change route plans and once again negotiate with some local groups in Douma to facilitate the safe access of the OPCW investigators to the site of the alleged chemical attack.
Earlier, Moscow said that the strikes were aimed at thwarting the UN chemical watchdog’s investigation. Washington and its allies launched a massive missile strike against Syria on the same day that the team of OPCW experts was expected to arrive in Syria.
On Monday, an array of western mainstream media came out with strikingly similar headlines as they all accused Moscow of “blocking” the OPCW experts from entering Douma. CNN, the Guardian and the New York Times all said that the OPCW experts were either “blocked” or “barred” from the alleged chemical attack site. CBS News came out with a headline reading: “Russia accused of blocking access to alleged chemical attack site” while the Sun wrote that “US accuses Russia of tampering with Syrian poison gas site and [of] blocking inspectors” altogether.
It turned out that British officials were behind this new wave of hysteria. The inspectors “are currently being prevented from doing so by the regime and the Russians,” Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain said in Parliament, the media reported. The British prime minister also accused the Syrian government of “attempting to conceal the evidence” of the attack. She never provided any proof to substantiate her words, though.
The British mission to the OPCW also added fuel to the fire by tweeting that “Russia and Syria have not yet allowed access to Douma.”
In fact, Russia informed the OPCW that “there were still pending security issues to be worked out before any deployment could take place,”Ahmet Uzumcu, the director general of the OPCW technical secretariat, said in a statement on Monday.
The whole media campaign promoting the idea of the OPCW investigation being “blocked” might be aimed at actually discrediting the potential results of the probe, which could prove to be inconsistent with the narrative promoted by the US and its allies, security analyst and former UK Army officer Charles Shoebridge said, in a Twitter post.