Russia: Chemical inspectors allowed access to Syria attack site

By Sara Shayanian  |  April 17, 2018 at 8:06 AM
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April 17 (UPI) -- Investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will be granted access this week to the site of a suspected chemical attack in Syria, Russian officials said.

Russian defense commander Igor Kirillov said investigators can access the site Wednesday.

"The United Nations security service is to visit Douma [Tuesday] to conduct route reconnaissance, and OPCW specialists are expected to reach the city on Wednesday," Kirillov said.

Previously, Russia and Syria cited "pending security issues to be worked out" as the reason inspectors were initially denied access to the Douma site.

On Monday, U.S. ambassador to the OPCW Kenneth Ward hinted that Russia may have interfered with the attack site.

"We are concerned they may have tampered with it with the intent of thwarting the efforts of the OPCW fact-finding mission to conduct an effective investigation," he said.

Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied the claims, saying the OPCW needed United Nations permission before anyone could travel to the area.

More than 70 people died in the April 7 attack -- which ultimately drew a military response from the United States, Britain and France. Russia and Iran, both allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, have condemned the strikes and Moscow has suggested the attack on civilians was "staged."

The monetary cost of the attack for U.S. taxpayers, although still unclear, appears to exceed $100 million, CNBC reported.

U.S. forces fired 66 Tomahawk cruise missiles -- with a total cost of about $92 million -- and Lockheed Martin's JASSM-ER missile made its combat debut in the Syrian strikes. At an estimated cost of $1.4 million each, the 19 Lockheed missiles fired at Syria total about $26.6 million.

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