Russian officials say global chemical weapons experts are due to arrive in Syrian town of Douma on April 18 to investigate the site of a suspected gas attack there, amid US fears that Moscow may already have "tampered with" evidence at the site.
The question now is what OPCW inspectors will find, days after Russian and Syrian forces reclaimed Douma and took control of the scene of the alleged chemical attack.
Douma was the last town held by rebels in the eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus, until they surrendered the day after the alleged gas attack.
Following weekend missile strikes on Syria by the US, France and Britain, Russia traded accusations with Western nations on Monday, dismissing as "a blatant lie" accusations that Moscow was hindering the investigation in Douma.
The say the airstrikes last Saturday by the three nations were "limited, proportionate and necessary" and followed "only after exhausting every possible diplomatic option to uphold the global norm against the use of chemical weapons". Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko of the Russian military's Reconciliation Center in Syria. He said the inspectors can not access the site because it needs permission from United Nations security experts.
Global inspectors have entered the Syrian town where an alleged chemical attack was carried out earlier this month, following delays by Syrian and Russian authorities.More news: Vice President Mike Pence makes quick visit to Colorado Springs
Earlier Monday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the inspectors could not go to the site because they needed approval from the U.N. Department for Safety and Security. He denied that Russian Federation was hampering the mission and suggested the approval was held up because of the Western airstrikes.
Medical student Marwan Jaber said no chemical weapons were used on April 7.
"Not even a day passed after the missile strikes when their organizers started putting forward unusual and political initiatives", Nebenzia said.
The team's entry into Douma came 10 days after the alleged attack, raising concerns that any evidence the inspectors find could be useless.
Douma hospital workers who stayed in the town after the army recaptured it have said that none of the people injured on the night of the attack were exposed to chemical weapons.
"Innocent families - seeking shelter in underground bunkers - found dead with foam in their mouths, burns to their eyes and their bodies surrounded by a chlorine-like odour". Ahmed Abed al-Nafaa said helicopters were flying before the attack and when he reached the site, people were screaming "chlorine". Government forces and Russian troops have been deployed in Douma, which is now controlled by the Syrian government.