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Syria 'chemical' attack: Experts finally visit Douma site

Syria 'chemical' attack: Experts finally visit Douma site

A picture taken during a Syrian army-organised tour on 20 April in the Eastern Ghouta town of Douma.

A team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have been in Syria for a week but had not traveled to the city because of security fears, although Russian Federation and Syria allowed teams of journalists to access the site.

Russian Federation denied the claims, saying parts of Douma still needed to be de-mined and said the watchdog's inspectors would enter on Wednesday.

The Syrian government and Moscow say the alleged chemical attack, which prompted a series of air strikes by Western allies as an act of retaliation, was staged.

The delay in the OPCW visit encouraged the proliferation of rival theories and accusations ricocheted between the various capitals and across the internet, BBC Arab Affairs editor Sebastian Usher says.

The experts of Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have arrived this Saturday one of places of Duma, in Syria, which were affected by attack of April 7 in this locality.

The samples collected in the Syrian town of Douma "will be transported to the OPCW Laboratory in Rijswijk and then dispatched for analysis to the OPCW's designated labs", the press release says.

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

They had been due to enter the town on Wednesday but the visit was delayed after a United Nations risk assessment team came under fire while checking the sites on Tuesday. Militants gave up the town days after the alleged attack.

Medics said hundreds of patients exhibited symptoms including skin discoloration, burning eyes and foaming at the mouth, indications of exposure to what they said was chlorine gas, a chemical poison, and sarin, a nerve agent.

Why has it taken so long? The city, located about 10 kilometres norast of Damascus, has been controlled by rebel factions for nearly six years until April 12, five days after alleged attack, waved regime's flag again.

The visit would allow the agency to move forward with an independent investigation to find out what chemicals, if any, were used.

Even the Foreign Ministry of Russia said Saturday that Russian and Allied forces experienced guaranteed safe passage for the O.P.C.W. team and implied that any flaws inside their trip had been caused by these.


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