Russia may have tampered with Syria attack strike: US envoy Kenneth Ward

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Web Team Washington, DC, USA Apr 16, 2018, 06.55 PM (IST)

At a meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons(OPCW), US envoy Kenneth Ward said Russia may have tampered with the attack site in which three Syrian chemical weapons were targeted by the US and its allies on Saturday.

"It is our understanding the Russians may have visited the attack site," US Ambassador Kenneth Ward said at a meeting of the OPCW in The Hague on Monday.

US, Britain and France in a joint operation had launched air strikes on Syria on Saturday in retaliation against alleged use of chemical weapons on civilians by the Assad regime in the Damascus suburb of Douma on April 7.

OPCW officials had visited Syria prior to the strikes but haven't got access to the attack site which is now under the control of the Assad government.
"It is our concern that they may have tampered with it with the intent of thwarting the efforts of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission to conduct an effective investigation," Ward added.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, however, dismissed reports of tampering, saying: "I can guarantee that Russia has not tampered with the site."

The British and OPCW officials have accused Russia and the Syrian government of refusing access to Douma. The inspectors aim to interview people and collect evidence of the use of chemical weapons by the Assad government.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the British accusation that Russia was to blame for holding up the inspections was "groundless".

"We called for an objective investigation. This was at the very beginning after this information [of the attack] appeared. Therefore allegations of this towards Russia are groundless," Peskov said.