Chemical inspectors completes Douma mission: OPCW

A child is treated in a hospital in Douma, eastern Ghouta in Syria, after what a Syria medical relief group claims was a suspected chemical attack on April, 7, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

THE HAGUE (AFP) - Chemical weapons experts have completed their mission to the Syrian town of Douma to probe last month's alleged chemical attack, but the analysis of samples may still take weeks, the global watchdog said Friday (May 4).

"The initial deployment of the fact-finding mission... in Douma is complete," the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said from its headquarters in The Hague.

"Samples have been brought to the OPCW laboratory where they will be split and then dispatched to the OPCW designated laboratories," it added in a statement.

The OPCW's mission to Douma was launched amid international outrage over images of adults and children appearing to be suffering from the effects of a toxic weapon attack.

The gruesome footage from the apparent April 7 attack horrified the world and prompted unprecedented Western strikes on Syrian military installations.

The fact-finding mission gained access to Douma on April 21 after several delays since deploying to Syria on April 14.

But the global watchdog warned that the analysis of samples "may take at least three to four weeks," with inspectors continuing to collect more information and material.

"At this time it is not possible to give a timeframe for when the Douma report will be issued to states parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention," the OPCW said.

On April 7, the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and the White Helmets jointly said dozens of people died in a "poisonous chlorine gas attack" in Douma.

But Syria and Russia have accused Syrian volunteer rescue workers of staging the video footage at the behest of the United States and its allies.

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