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China supports an investigation into a presumed chemical attack on Syria’s Duma

CHINA (OBSERVATORY) –┬áChina announced on Monday its support for an investigation into reports of a chemical attack on the city of Duma, the last stronghold of Syrian opposition groups near Damascus, which has killed dozens of people and provoked widespread international condemnation.

A chemical attack on the city of Duma, the last stronghold of opposition factions in the eastern Ghouta near Damascus on Saturday evening, killed 48 people, according to the White Helmets (civil defense in the opposition areas) and the Syrian American Medical Association (Sams). No independent source confirmed the attack.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, for its part, said 21 people were killed and 70 suffocated, without specifying the cause.

“We firmly oppose the use of chemical weapons by any country, organization or person, for any reason and under any circumstance,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday.

“China supports a comprehensive, objective and just investigation into the incident … leading to the responsible person being brought to justice under the law,” he said.

Jing said the Security Council and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (CWC) should continue their role as the “main channel” to deal with the crisis.

China is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Paris and Washington pledged a strong and joint response after reports of the attack. The Security Council is expected to discuss the issue on Monday night.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that Russian experts who had investigated Duma had found no “trace” of chemicals.

Lavrov pointed out that the Syrian opposition may be responsible for the attack in order to implicate the Syrian regime, an approach that Moscow has warned against before.