Syria 'chemical' attack: Experts finally visit Douma site | 2018-04-22 |

Syria 'chemical' attack: Experts finally visit Douma site


22nd April, 2018 09:03:53 printer

Syria 'chemical' attack: Experts finally visit Douma site


International chemical weapons experts have finally inspected the site of a suspected attack near Damascus which caused an international crisis.


The team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) travelled to the town of Douma and collected samples and other items.


Last week Western states bombed several Syrian government sites in retaliation for the suspected attack on 7 April.


Syria and Russia, which now control Douma, deny chemical arms were used.


More than 40 people are said to have died on 7 April. The joint military response by the US, UK and France followed a war of words with Russia, Syria's main military ally.



What happened on Saturday?


In a press release, the OPCW said its team had visited one of the two sites reportedly bombed in Douma on 7 April.


The unspecified samples will be sent to the OPCW Laboratory in Rijswijk, a suburb of The Hague, and then analysed by designated labs, the agency said.


Other information and "materials" have also been collected by the inspectors, it said.


The nine-strong team had been waiting for a week in the Syrian capital for clearance to visit the town.


They had been due to enter the town on Wednesday but the visit was delayed after a UN risk assessment team came under fire while checking the sites on Tuesday.


Western officials fear that evidence of the alleged double chemical attack may have been tampered with.


However, important traces of toxic chemicals would probably still be present in the environment and in the remains of victims, Alastair Hay, professor of environmental toxicology at the University of Leeds, told AFP news agency.


Douma was constantly under attack during the recent Russian-backed Syrian offensive to drive rebels out of areas near Damascus and is still littered with the debris of war, making any inspection potentially hazardous.