France says proof likely disappearing from Douma, inspectors must have full access

PARIS: France’s foreign ministry on Tuesday said it was very likely that proof has disappeared from the site of a suspected poison gas attack in Syria, adding it was essential that international inspectors be given full access to the site.

Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) traveled to Syria last week to inspect the site, but have yet to gain access to Douma, which is now under government control after the rebels withdrew.

“As of today, Russia and Syria still refuse to give inspectors access to the site of the attack,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“It is very likely that proof and essential elements are disappearing from this site,” it said.

In a seperate development, France has begun the process of stripping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of his Legion of Honour award, the country’s highest distinction, a source in the French president’s office said on Monday.

The move comes after President Emmanuel Macron, alongside the United States and Britain, ordered military strikes on Syrian targets in response to a suspected poison gas attack that killed dozens of people last week near the capital Damascus.

Assad was awarded the honor in 2001 by then French President Jacques Chirac.

Macron’s government has said it plans to review the way the honor is awarded. In October it started the process of stripping Harvey Weinstein of his Legion of Honour too, after allegations of sexual harassment by the film producer emerged.



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