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    10-Apr-2018

Damascus Invites Global Watchdog to Douma to Probe Chemical Claims

 

AFP

 

Syria's government has invited the global chemical watchdog to visit the rebel-held town where an alleged toxic gas attack killed dozens at the weekend, state media said Tuesday.
 
Syria has denied accusations it unleashed a gas attack on the town of Douma, the last opposition town in the battered enclave of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus.
 
Citing a foreign ministry source, state news agency SANA said Syria was ready to cooperate with a fact-finding team. 
 
"The ministry sent a formal invitation to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to send a team from its fact-finding mission to visit Douma and investigate claims linked to the alleged use of chemical weapons there," it said.
 
The letter said Syria was ready to "provide all necessary assistance to the mission."
 
The OPCW's fact-finding mission for Syria was established in 2014 to confirm chemical weapons use, but it does not have the mandate to establish who is responsible.
 
Syria's letter came hours ahead of a United Nations Security Council meeting on rival proposals by Russia and the United States on chemical weapons use.
 
Regime ally Moscow said it would propose a U.N. resolution on a "transparent and honest" investigation with the OPCW's involvement. 
 
It said Syrian government troops could ensure the safety of OPCW experts if they were to travel to the scene, he added, criticizing previous investigations for having been conducted from a distance.
 
The OPCW already says it is investigating but that so far only a "preliminary analysis" had taken place.
 

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