THE HAGUE (NETHERLANDS): Experts from the global chemical weapons watchdog are on their way to Syria and will start work on Saturday to probe an alleged poison gas attack, the organisation confirmed.
A spokesperson for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons "confirms that the OPCW fact-finding mission team is on its way to Syria and will start its work as of Saturday 14 April 2018," a brief statement said today.
The confirmation came after Syria's ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, said two OPCW groups were to arrive in his country today and tomorrow to investigate what happened in the rebel-held town of Douma.
The OPCW decided to dispatch a fact-finding mission to the town after reports that more than 40 people died from exposure to toxic gas at the weekend.
"These two groups will arrive separately to Syria today as well as tomorrow, on Friday," Jaafari told reporters. We will facilitate the arrival of the team to anywhere they want, in Douma, to check whether or not there was use of chemical substances," Jaafari added.
It will be the first time that an OPCW team has moved outside of Damascus since 2014, when one of their missions came under attack after their convoy hit a roadside bomb.
The team was ambushed and two people were briefly detained.
Although only one person was injured, the experience left the OPCW, whose technical staff are mainly scientists, badly shaken.
Russia has also said it will guarantee the safety and security of the mission to Douma.
The OPCW's executive council is to meet at its headquarters in The Hague on Monday to discuss the alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma.