Syrian government soldiers stand in the street in Douma on the outskirts of Damascus during an organised media tour after the Syrian army declared that all anti-regime forces have left Eastern Ghouta, following a blistering two month offensive on the rebel enclave. Image Credit: AFP

Beirut: A senior Russian diplomat said the mission from the international chemical weapons watchdog cannot access the site of an alleged chemical attack near Damascus without an appropriate UN permit.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was responding to questions on Monday on whether the team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had been blocked from going into Douma, the town where the attack allegedly happened.

Ryabkov said the mission wasn’t allowed in because it hadn’t secured the approval of the UN Department for Safety and Security.

His remarks indicate what could be an attempt to bog down the OPCW team. Both Russia and the Syrian regime have welcomed the OPCW visit.

At least 40 people are believed to have died in the attack on Douma, until the weekend the last rebel-held town outside the Syrian capital. The OPCW has dispatched a fact-finding mission to Syria to investigate.