OPCW completes ‘initial’ chemical probe in Syria’s Douma, sends samples for analysis
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has completed the “initial deployment” of its fact-finding mission at the site of the alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma.
“Samples were brought to the OPCW Laboratory where they will be split and then dispatched to the OPCW designated laboratories. The analysis of the samples may take at least three to four weeks,” the organization said in a statement on Friday.
While the collected samples are being analyzed, the fact-finding mission “will continue its work to collect more information and material,” the OPCW said. So far, there are no estimates on when the final report on the alleged incident will be completed.
“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.
The fact-finding mission was deployed to Syria following the alleged chemical attack in the town of Douma. Pro-militant sources, namely the controversial White Helmets group, claimed that the government forces targeted the area with chlorine-filled munition, affecting dozens of civilians.
Russian military experts explored the area shortly after the alleged incident, finding no evidence of any chemical weaponry usage. The account of events purveyed by the pro-militant sources has also been challenged by multiple eyewitnesses, mainly local medical workers, who said the incident was likely staged.
Just ahead of the OPCW mission deployment, the US, UK and France arbitrarily pinned the blame on Damascus and attacked Syria with a volley of cruise missiles, using the “chemical incident” as the justification for their unilateral act of aggression.
Damascus has repeatedly rejected the accusations, insisting that it did not have any chemical weaponry at its disposal since it surrendered its chemical arsenal back in 2014 under a Russia- and US-brokered deal. The OPCW supervised that process, confirming that “over 96 percent” of the country’s declared chemicals were destroyed, except for those stockpiles in the territories controlled by the terrorists and the so-called ‘moderate’ militants.
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