Gunmen Shot at U.N. Team Near Site of Reported Chemical Attack, Official Says

A group from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arrived within the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Saturday, with a mandate to research the assault. But the group has not but been capable of attain the location.

This has led to accusations by the United States that the Syrian authorities and Russia are attempting to cowl up any proof of chemical weapon use — a cost they deny.

The investigators have been initially scheduled to go to the location on Monday however didn’t. On Tuesday, the Syrian authorities mentioned the group had not been capable of go for safety causes, though it had allowed a variety of journalists to go to Douma. Some of these journalists visited the location of the assault and interviewed residents who misplaced members of their households.

The residents differed on who was accountable for the assault, with some accusing the federal government and others accusing the insurgent group that had been in charge of Douma on the time, the Army of Islam.

But the truth that journalists had been capable of wander round Douma unmolested raised questions on why it was not deemed protected sufficient for the investigators to go to.

On Wednesday, Ahmed Uzumcu, the director basic of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, advised a gathering of the group’s government council safety group from the United Nations had gone to do reconnaissance in Douma on Tuesday.

During a go to to 1 web site, a big crowd gathered and the safety group left, Mr. Uzumcu mentioned. At one other, the group “came under small-arms fire and an explosive was detonated,” he mentioned.

The group left and returned to Damascus unhurt, but it surely was not clear when the investigators would be capable to go to Douma, Mr. Uzumcu mentioned.

The longer the investigators should wait to take samples in Douma, the decrease the chance of acquiring proof of chemical weapons use, as a result of the toxins within the weapons degrade over time.

Determining whether or not such weapons have been utilized in Douma may assist resolve a standoff between the United States and its allies on one aspect and the Syrian authorities and its allies on the opposite.

But beneath its mandate, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is simply accountable for figuring out whether or not chemical weapons have been used and what sort, not who used them.

A review by The New York Times of movies of the aftermath and interviews with residents of Douma, medics and rescue staff urged that steel canisters containing a chemical have been dropped from Syrian authorities helicopters throughout a wider offensive to rout the rebels.

One of the canisters landed on the higher flooring of an condominium constructing full of individuals, lots of whom suffocated because the canister’s contents dispersed.

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