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Damascus invites OPCW to visit Eastern Ghouta — foreign ministry

Some NGOs, including the White Helmets, claim that chemical weapons were used in Douma, a suburb of the Syrian capital on April 7

MOSCOW, April 10. /TASS/. Syria’s foreign ministry has referred an official message to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inviting its experts to visit Eastern Ghouta in the wake of reports about alleged chemical attack, SANA news agency said on Tuesday, citing a ministry spokesman.

According to the spokesman, the official invitation was referred via Syria’s permanent mission at the OPCW headquarters in The Hague inviting the organization to send "a team from the fact-finding mission to visit Douma and investigate claims related to the alleged use of chemical weapons there and identify the facts related to these allegations," SANA said.

The spokesman reiterated the Syrian authorities’ readiness to provide all-round assistance to the OPCW mission and stressed that Damascus "hopes that the mission will conduct its work with full transparency and rely on tangible and credible evidence."

Some non-governmental organizations, including White Helmets, claim that chemical weapons were used in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, on April 7. According to the statement uploaded to the organization’s website on April 8, chlorine bombs were dropped on the city to kill dozens and poison other local civilians who had to be brought to hospital.

The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed that as fake news. The Russian Defense Ministry stated that White Helmets were an unreliable source, notorious for disseminating falsehoods. The Russian center for the reconciliation of conflicting parties on April 9 examined Douma to find no traces of chemical weapons. Earlier, various official Russian agencies repeatedly warned that preparations had been underway in different parts of Syria for provocations and simulations of chemical attacks that would be blamed on government forces.

Russia and Syria have already invited OPCW experts to visit Douma to conduct an investigation into the alleged chemical attack. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Moscow is ready to grant security guarantees to the OPCW specialists, since the town has already been liberated from militants and is controlled by Syrian government troops. However, no response to the initiative has come so far.