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Eyewitness interviews show there was no chemical attack in Syria’s Douma, says expert

Syria calls for reconsidering Douma incident investigation conclusions

THE HAGUE, July 12. /TASS/. Interviews of eyewitnesses in Syria show that there was no chemical attack in Douma, Director of the Foundation for the Study of Democracy Maxim Grigoryev told reporters at a news conference on Friday.

According to Grigoryev, in late June and early July, the organization interviewed people living in the house where the bodies of the supposed chemical attack victims had been found. "These interviews have shown that there was no attack and that the people who had lived in the house for a long time did not know those who were allegedly exposed to chlorine," Grigoryev pointed out.

The expert noted that the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) experts could have carried out the investigation and witness interview as well. However, for some reason, they failed to do so.

Meanwhile Syria is calling on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to reassess the expert conclusions regarding the April 2018 incident in the Syrian town of Douma, Syria's Permanent Representative to the OPCW Bassam Sabbagh told a press conference on Friday.

"Syria strongly believes that common objectives of the States Parties and Technical Secretariat of the OPCW is to maintain professionalism and credibility of the organization's activities. Therefore, Syria calls on the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW to reconsider its position and to re-evaluate its investigations to clarify the truth regarding the Douma incident," he said.

A number of non-governmental organizations, including the White Helmets, alleged that chemical weapons were used in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, on April 7, 2018. According to a statement on the organization’s website, chlorine bombs were dropped on the city, which caused dozens of fatalities. Many civilians were rumored to have been taken to hospital. Representatives of the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria inspected Douma but did not find any traces of chemical weapons.

On April 14, 2018, the US, the UK and France delivered massive missile strikes at targets in Syria without the UN Security Council’s mandate. The scientific and research center in Damascus, the Syrian Republican Guard headquarters, an air defense base, a few military airfields and army warehouses came under attack. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Syria managed to shoot down 71 cruise missiles out of 103 that were launched at its territory on April 14. Washington, London and Paris claimed the strikes had come as a response to an alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma.

The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) issued a 100-page final report on March 1, concluding that chlorine was used during the attack in Syria’s Douma on April 7, 2018. The report was submitted to the United Nations Security Council through the UN secretary general and specifically states that the cylinders with chemicals at the incident site were airdropped.

However, a new report signed by OPCW expert Ian Henderson emerged on the Internet in May, stating that both cylinders were likely to be placed at the incident site rather than airdropped. These conclusions, which support Russia and Syria’s version that the incident was staged, were not included in the final report of the organization though.