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Russia calls on OPCW inspectors to complete work in Douma to establish truth

  THE HAGUE, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Russia on Monday urged the global chemical arms watchdog inspectors to complete their mission in Syria as soon as possible to establish the truth following the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria's Douma earlier this month.

  Speaking at the headquarters of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, Russia's permanent representative Alexander Shulgin asked: "why are we here today? Why was this session convened by our Western partners, who -- without any conclusions of the OPCW Technical Secretariat -- have already made their decisions? What was this tragicomedy for? The FFM is still working on establishing the truth."

  He referred to the OPCW Fact Finding Mission, nine experts all together, who have all arrived in Damascus since last Saturday, according to OPCW Director-general Ahmet Uzumcu.

  "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," Uzumcu told the session of the OPCW governing body, the Executive Council.

  "Russia & Syria have not yet allowed access to Douma. Unfettered access essential," the British delegation to the OPCW tweeted.

  In his statement, Shulgin stressed that the FFM mission dispatched with the consent of the Syrian authorities, and Russia has also offered every support.

  With forces deployed in Douma, Russia has an opportunity to ensure security in those areas where the OPCW inspectors will work but Russia will not impose this aid, he added.

  "The mission should do its work impartially. This assistance relates to the security, since the area has been for a long time under control of terrorist groups. This should be borne in mind and every effort should be made to ensure that the FFM carries out its work without any obstacles," said Shulgin.

  "We believe that in the light of the recent attack on Syria, the work of the OPCW inspectors in Douma is becoming even more relevant. We insist on the need to complete their work as soon as possible and to present their conclusions to the OPCW Member States," he said.

  Russia said the the so-called use of chemical weapons was staged by pseudo-humanitarian NGOs which are nourished by the opponents of the official Damascus in order to deceive the international community and justify their aggression against Syria.

  The attack against Syria "by the so-called Western coalition" is a gross violation of the UN Charter and of the fundamental norms of international law, said Shulgin.

  British ambassador to the Netherlands, Peter Wilson, urged Monday's meeting "to act to hold perpetrators to account", saying failure to do so "will only risk further barbaric use of chemical weapons in Syria and beyond".

  He repeated that the military attack by the United States, France and Britain on Saturday had struck at a "limited set of targets" and "hitting these targets will significantly degrade the Syrian regime's ability to research, develop and deploy chemical weapons".