OPCW experts visit site of alleged chemical attack in Syria

A man rides a motorbike along a street in the city of Douma Syria

Nearly two weeks after a suspected chemical weapons attack killed nearly 40 people in Syria, a team of experts arrived Saturday at one of the sites of the alleged attack in the city of Douma.

Aid workers in Syria have described desperate efforts to preserve evidence of a chemical weapons attack after worldwide inspectors were finally given access to Douma.

People stand in front of damaged buildings, in the town of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack, near Damascus, Syria, April 16, 2018.

"The OPCW will evaluate the situation and consider future steps including another possible visit to Douma", read the statement, adding that the samples would be sent to a lab in the Netherlands for testing.

The team faced difficulties entering Douma, however, coming "under small arms fire" that forced them to return to Damascus.

Observers expect progress in clarifying the truth about whether chemical weapons were actually used and what kind of chemical weapons were used.

Karen Pierce said all the facts had not yet been established, and that Russian Federation and Syria should allow inspectors to visit the site.

"The Syrian government has declared in its invitation letter (to the OPCW), and after the arrival of the (inspection) team, it will fully cooperate and offer all facilitations for the inspection team to carry out its mission", he said. The team of nine experts arrived in Damascus a week ago, coinciding with military intervention of Western retaliation for alleged chemical attack, but has not been able to start work for security reasons.

The evacuations were the latest in a string of population transfers around the Syrian capital that have displaced more than 60,000 people as the government reconsolidates control after seven years of civil war. The attack took place one week after a suspected chemical weapons attack in the Syrian town of Douma near Damascus.

OPCW experts visit site of alleged chemical attack in Syria
OPCW experts visit site of alleged chemical attack in Syria

Moscow, a key ally of president Bashar al-Assad, has said its own probe into the events in Douma found no traces of chemical use.

The Syrian government denied the allegations, saying the rebels and their foreign backers were fabricating events to attract foreign military action.

The US and France have accused Russian Federation of blocking access to the site, where rescuers and medics say dozens of people were killed on April 7.

The British ambassador to the United Nations warned earlier today that there is a "possibility" that Russian Federation has tampered with evidence of the alleged chemical gas attack.

"Nerve agents like sarin can be present in the environment for many weeks after use and particularly if you look near the site where a weapon has exploded", said Alastair Hay, professor of environmental toxicology at the University of Leeds.

Also on Saturday, Syrian government forces continued an offensive against rebel-held parts of the capital's outskirts, in a bid to drive out remaining armed opposition groups, according to state media and war monitors.

"Autopsy samples, if available, will provide invaluable evidence and nerve agents can be found in many organs".

"Their presence has allowed this terror to continue to this day".

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