Sunday, April 22, 2018 | ePaper

Chemical inspectors to begin work in Syria's Douma

  • Print


Photo shows unidentified volunteers giving aid to children at a hospital following an alleged chemical attack on the rebel-held town in Douma.

AFP, Damascus :
Inspectors from the OPCW chemical watchdog will begin their investigation Sunday at the site of an alleged chemical attack near Damascus, a senior official said.
"The fact-funding team arrived in Damascus on Saturday and is due to go to Douma on Sunday," Deputy Foreign Minister Ayman Soussan told AFP.
A delegation of experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, based in The Hague, is tasked with investigating an April 7 attack on Douma, just east of Damascus.
Western powers say chemical substances, most likely chlorine and sarin, were used in the attack and killed at least 40 civilians.
The alleged attack, which Damascus and its Russian ally have denied ever happened, prompted an unprecedented wave of missile strikes by the United States, France and Britain on Saturday.
Soussan reiterated a pledge by the Syrian government that the chemical experts would be allow to investigate unimpeded.
"We will ensure they can work professionally, objectively, impartially and free of any pressure," he said.
Meanwhile, President Bashar al-Assad's government has invited international inspectors to send a team to Syria to investigate an alleged chemical attack in the town of Douma in a move apparently aimed at averting possible Western military action over the incident.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday warned of a quick, forceful response once responsibility was established. The White House said Trump will now not travel on Friday to the Summit of the Americas in Peru so that he can focus on the crisis.
At least 60 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured in Saturday's suspected attack on Douma, then still occupied by rebel forces, according to a Syrian relief group.
The Syrian government and Russia said there was no evidence that a gas attack had taken place and the claim was bogus.
But the incident has thrust Syria's seven-year-old conflict back to the forefront of international concern.
Adding to the volatile situation, Iran, Assad's main ally along with Russia, threatened to respond to an air strike on a Syrian military base on Monday that Tehran, Damascus and Moscow have blamed on Israel.
Meanwhile on the ground, thousands of militants and their families arrived in rebel-held northwestern Syria after surrendering Douma to government forces. The evacuation deal restores Assad's control over the entire eastern Ghouta - formerly the biggest rebel bastion near Damascus.
The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is already at work trying to establish what exactly took place in Douma.
But whether a team would try to get there was unclear. OPCW inspectors have been attacked on two previous missions to the sites of chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
"Syria is keen on cooperating with the OPCW to uncover the truth behind the allegations that some Western sides have been advertising to justify their aggressive intentions," state news agency SANA said, quoting an official Foreign Ministry source.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Kremlin would submit a resolution to the U.N. Security Council proposing that the OPCW investigate the alleged attack.

More News For this Category

Thousands of  students to walkout across US  in call for gun reform

Thousands of students to walkout across US in call for gun reform

Reuters, Colorado : Thousands of students again walked out of classes across the United States on Friday, marking the 19th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School with a

Internal review cleared Trump's CIA pick in videotape destruction

Internal review cleared Trump's CIA pick in videotape destruction

Reuters, Washington  :An internal CIA review in 2011 cleared U.S. President Donald Trump's choice to head the agency, Gina Haspel, of wrongdoing in the destruction of videotapes depicting the

Iran vows ‘expected and unexpected’ moves if US exits deal

Iran vows ‘expected and unexpected’ moves if US exits deal

Reuters, Dubai :Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday Iran's atomic agency was ready with "expected and unexpected" reactions if the United States pulls out of a multinational nuclear

News In Brief

Macron, Trump to dine at Mt Vernon on MondayAFP, Mount VernonThe Trumps, it seems, have not forgotten their intimate meal with the Macrons on the second floor of the

Leak crackdown talk yields rare Comey, Trump agreement

Leak crackdown talk yields rare Comey, Trump agreement

AP, Washington :James Comey and President Donald Trump seem to disagree on most everything, but the ex-FBI director's memos show consensus on at least one thing: the need to

China, Iran, Russia are 'forces for instability': US

China, Iran, Russia are 'forces for instability': US

AP, Washington :The United States branded strategic rivals China and Russia "forces of instability" on Friday, grouping them with Iran and North Korea as countries whose rights abuses amount

Koreas set up 1st hotline between leaders ahead of summit

Koreas set up 1st hotline between leaders ahead of summit

AP, Seoul :North and South Korea installed the first-ever telephone hotline between their leaders Friday as they prepare for a rare summit next week aimed at resolving the nuclear

Alabama executes inmate, 83, oldest in modern US history

Alabama executes inmate, 83, oldest in modern US history

Reuters, Alabama :Alabama on Thursday executed an 83-year-old man convicted of a deadly 1989 serial bombing spree, making him the oldest known person put to death in the modern

Cuba's new President Diaz-Canel vows to 'continue' revolution

Cuba's new President Diaz-Canel vows to 'continue' revolution

AFP, Havana, Cuba :  Cuba's new President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who was on Thursday named as Raul Castro's successor, vowed to keep the Caribbean island on the path of "revolution"

News In Brief

50 migrant caravan reach Mexico, US borderReuters, Mexico City A group of 50 Central American migrants who set out from southern Mexico in late March have reached the U.S.