Eli Ridder | Report
Chemical weapons inspectors were finally allowed into Syria’s Douma on Saturday, the site of a suspected attack earlier this month that sparked a retaliatory response from the United States, United Kingdom and France.
The team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, tasked only with verifying whether the attack did happen, collected samples and other evidence a week after they were originally supposed to go in.
On April 7, Syria’s government utilized chemical weapons that may have included chlorine and sarin against rebels and civilians in the only remaining rebel enclave near the capital Damascus, according to Western allies.
Syria’s close ally Russia accused the U.K. of staging the attack and said they had evidence on its state media and Syria denies it carried out a chemical attack.
The U.S., U.K. and France carried out “precision” air strikes from warplanes and naval vessels on April 13 in retaliation, claiming they had evidence Damascus yet again broke international law in their attack.
The OPCW team was supposed to enter Douma the following day, not to determine who carried out the attacks, but to be an impartial investigation.
They were delayed a week by Russian and Syrian forces, and then were set to enter Wednesday before being delayed until April 21.
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.
More details to follow. Image of Douma from Syrian state media.