World

Chemical weapons investigation team arrives in Damascus - OPCW

Chemical weapons investigation team arrives in Damascus - OPCW

Ambassadors convened at the OPCW's headquarters two days after an unprecedented wave of punitive missile strikes launched by Western powers before a fact-finding team could investigate.

Moscow denied the charge and blamed delays on retaliatory US-led missile strikes on Syria at the weekend.

The OPCW's fact-finding mission "will continue its deployment to the Syrian Arab Republic to establish facts around the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma", the agency said in a statement.

Russian Federation says a visit by inspectors from the United Nations chemical watchdog to the site of an alleged gas attack in Syria's Douma has been delayed due to recent Western airstrikes on the Arab country.

In a conference call with reporters on Saturday, senior US administration officials said they had a large volume of clear and compelling information, both of chemical weapons use and of President Bashar al-Assad's culpability in the attack.

Inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, arrived in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Saturday.

The United States, Britain and France fired more than 100 missiles at Syria early on Saturday in the first coordinated Western military intervention against the Damascus government.

"I can guarantee that Russian Federation has not tampered with the site", Lavrov said in an interview with the BBC.

Instead, he said it was the United States, France, and Britain who were "standing in the way" of the investigation by ordering air strikes "in the blink of an eye" before the OPCW team had had a chance to do their work.




It said no deaths from mechanical injuries were visible and all symptoms were characteristic of a chemical weapons attack, particularly choking agents and organophosphorus agents or hydrocyanic acid.

The US seems to be anticipating the OPCW probe not going their way, and is already accusing Syria and Russian Federation of plotting to tamper with the site.

OPCW officials have carried out similar chemical checks in Syria.

And the United States called for a clear condemnation by the OPCW of "the Syrian government for its reign of chemical terror".

Even though the OPCW team was not allowed in, the Syrian authorities organised a tour of the town for the foreign press, including AFP.

Syrian opposition media and activists have circulated reports about the alleged attack in the suburban city of Douma, along with videos allegedly showing deceased victims.

Lavrov also repeated Russia's claim that there was no chemical attack in Douma, asserting that "what did take place was.staged".

Medical student Marwan Jaber said no chemical weapons were used on April 7.


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