Syria air strikes: Russia ‘not tampering’ with chemical attack site

Media captionWatch the key moments over 12 hours – in two minutes

Russia has denied interfering with evidence at the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria which led to Saturday’s military intervention by the US, the UK and France.

In an interview for BBC’s Hardtalk, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: “I can guarantee that Russia has not tampered with the site.”

He spoke as the OPCW chemical weapons watchdog held an urgent meeting.

Inspectors in Syria have still not gained access to Douma, it is reported.

The UK ambassador to the OPCW, Peter Wilson, quoted the organisation’s director-general as saying they were still waiting.

The meeting in The Hague is behind closed doors, but Reuters quoted the American ambassador, Kenneth Ward, as expressing concern the Russian forces there may have tampered with evidence.

What else did Mr Lavrov say?

The Russian foreign minister again denied the use of chemical weapons in Douma on 7 April.

“I cannot be impolite with the heads of other states, but you quoted the leaders of France and the UK and US and, frankly speaking, all the evidence they quoted was based on media reports and social media.”

The event did not take place, he said. “What did take place was the staged thing,” he added.

Mr Lavrov also questioned why the US and its allies carried out air strikes the day before international inspectors were due to arrive at the site.

On the air strikes, he repeated the Russian assertion that two-thirds of the more than 100 missiles fired into Syria on Saturday failed to reach their targets.

Mr Lavrov said that the “deconfliction channel” to prevent a clash between US and Russian forces had done its job and a confrontation had not been close.

Catch up on the strikes:

What else is happening today?

What was targeted on Saturday?

Three sites – the Barzeh complex, which the US says is a centre for development, production and testing of chemical and biological weapons, although Syria denies this.

The other two were suspected chemical weapons facilities at Him Shinshar near Homs.

Image copyright
AFP

Image caption

The Barzeh complex appears completely destroyed

The US said 105 missiles were launched and it believed none were intercepted by Syrian defences. It said Syria’s chemical weapons programme had been set back years.

The Russians said 71 missiles were shot down by Syrian systems.

Syria air strikes: Russia ‘not tampering’ with chemical attack site}

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