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Chemical weapons inspectors to visit Syria soon

UNITED NATIONS (OBSERVATORY) – UN inspectors will travel to the Syrian city of Douma to investigate reports of an attack there that killed up to 60 people, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a statement on Tuesday.

The organization said it had asked Syria “to make the necessary arrangements for such a mission.”

“This coincided with a request from the Syrian Arab Republic and the Russian Federation to investigate allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Duma. The team is preparing to deploy in Syria soon.”

According to the Federation of Medical Care Organizations, the suspected attack with chemical weapons on Saturday evening injured more than 1,000 people in several locations in Duma, a city near the capital Damascus. The Syrian government and Russia deny that chemical weapons were used.

Doctors and witnesses said the victims had symptoms of poisoning, possibly due to exposure to nerve gas and reported the presence of the smell of chlorine gas.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has a mandate to investigate suspected chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Its fact-finding mission will determine whether banned ammunition has been used but will not identify who is responsible for the attacks.

Later on Tuesday, the United States will vote in the UN Security Council for a new inquiry to identify those responsible for the systematic use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict.

Diplomats said Russia was likely to veto the resolution after similar efforts have been hampered.