Chemical arms watchdog visited 2nd site in Douma, Syria

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An international chemical weapons watchdog on Wednesday said its fact-finding team has visited a second location to investigate the suspected chemical gas attack in Syria’s Douma region.

The suspected chemical attack took place on April 7, leaving at least 78 civilians dead, according to the White Helmets, a local civil defense agency.

On Wednesday, the team “carried out a visit to a second location in Douma. It also collected samples at this site," the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a statement from its headquarters in the Netherlands.

“These samples will be brought back, together with other samples, to the OPCW laboratory in Rijswik [the Netherlands]. They will be split and dispatched for analysis by the OPCW designated labs,” said the OPCW, which is headed by Turkish diplomat Ahmet Uzumcu.

The statement said that after arriving in Damascus on April 14, due to the security situation, the team was only able to visit Douma on April 21. "The team also interviewed some people related to the Douma incident, who were brought to Damascus," it added.

The statement also mentioned that the Russian delegation to the OPCW wanted to organize "a briefing for States Parties in The Hague" on April 26. "The delegation would bring some Syrians to speak about the reported Douma incident," it said.

But the OPCW Technical Secretariat advised the Russian delegation that these persons should be first interviewed by its team before the briefing. Nevertheless, the Russian delegation said it would go ahead with the briefing and that its intention was not to interfere with the team’s work, according to the statement.

The fact-finding mission will continue to carry out its "independent and impartial mission based on interviews with relevant people, its findings from the site visits, analysis of the sample results, as well as any other information and materials collected," the statement added.

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