THE HAGUE, May 4. /TASS/. The fact-finding mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has completed its work in Syria’s Douma and returned to The Hague, the OPCW said on Friday.
"The initial deployment of the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) to gather facts in Douma, Syrian Arab Republic is complete. The Director-General [Ahmet Uzumcu] thanked the FFM team members for their courage and professionalism," the OPCW said in a press statement.
"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. Meanwhile, the FFM will continue its work 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 document says.
Earlier in the day, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov told journalists the OPCW mission had finished its work in Douma following an alleged chemical attack. According to the spokesman, the OPCW inspectors were granted all-round and unimpeded access to all areas, buildings and premises they had planned to inspect and were given enough time to complete their mission. Russia’s military police were ensuring their security.
Reports on the alleged use of a chemical warfare agent in Douma on April 7 were circulated by a number of nongovernmental organizations, including the White Helmets. Officials from the Russian center for reconciliation of the warring sides in Syria said on April 9 they had not found any traces of chemical weapons during an inspection in Douma.
A day later, the OPCW took a decision to send experts to Syria for verifying the reports from the NGOs.
The mission arrived in Damascus on April 14. Several hours prior to their arrival, the US, the UK and France delivered amassed missile strikes on Syria, using the reports on the incident as an apparent pretext. According to the Russian defense ministry, the strikes were targeted at a research center in Damascus, the headquarters of the republican guards, an air defense base, several military aerodromes and army depots. Syria’s air defense systems downed 71 out of 103 missiles. Three civilians were wounded.
On April 26, Russia and Syria held a news briefing at the OPCW where they had brought seventeen eyewitnesses from Douma who confirmed there was no attack there and the White Helmets had actually forged the video footage.