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First OPCW experts looking into incident in Syria’s Douma arrive in Beirut — source

Russia and Syria have invited OPCW experts to visit the town of Douma in order to find out what had happened there

DAMASCUS /Syria/, April 12. /TASS/. A first group of OPCW experts, who are investigating the incident in the Syrian town of Douma, has arrived in Beirut, a Russian military and diplomatic source told reporters on Thursday.

"Today, a first group of experts from the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) [whose mandate is to establish facts of the use of toxic chemicals in Syria] has arrived in [Lebanon’s] capital of Beirut," he said.

"The OPCW FFM expert group accompanied by representatives of the office of the United Nations special envoy for Syria and UN Department of Safety and Security will head to Damascus," he said. "There, the OPCW specialists will be carrying out a set of conventional procedures to gather information about an alleged incident in Douma on April 7."

The source could not rule out that soil samples and other samples near Douma would be gathered for further research at OPCW certified laboratories.

Douma alleged chemical weapons attack

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 invited OPCW experts to visit the town of Douma in order to find out what had happened there. The OPCW replied that a mission would be deployed to the affected town and asked the Syrian government to make necessary preparations.