‘Russia Not Tampering with Syria Chemical Strike Sites’ — Lavrov Says

CAPITALS — Russia has denied interfering with evidence at the site of a suspected Syrian government chemical weapons attack which led to Saturday's military intervention by Western states.

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.

International inspectors are trying to reach the site in Douma, near Damascus.

The UK ambassador to the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons), Peter Wilson, quoted the agency's director-general, Ahmet Üzümcü, as saying they were still waiting.

The Swedish delegation cited a briefing from Mr Üzümcü that said Syria and Russia were concerned that security on the ground could not be guaranteed.

The meeting in The Hague is behind closed doors, but Reuters news agency reports that the American ambassador, Kenneth Ward, expressed concern the Russian forces there might have tampered with evidence.

In other developments:

·         The US is expected to announce fresh economic sanctions against Russia

·         EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg said they understood the air strikes had had "the sole objective" of preventing further use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government

·         UK PM Theresa May is to make a statement to Parliament after the opposition said it was wrong to have launched military action without consulting MPs

·         The French parliament is to discuss the air strikes


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