OPCW takes samples from Syria 'gas attack' site

US ready to strike Syria again if Assad ignores message

US ready to strike Syria again if Assad ignores message

On the day of the suspected chemical attack, Douma was still under the control of the Jaish al-Islam group, the last rebel bastion in the Eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus. Syria had already fulfilled its undertakings to destroy stockpiles of such weaponry, with the OPCW reporting the destruction as complete.

It would then "be up to the political organs of the OPCW and to individual states parties to decide whether the evidence was sufficient to confirm a chemical weapons attack or not", he said.

"Depending on analysis of samples and or information and material collected by team, mission will prepare a report to send it to Member States of Chemical Weapons Convention", as stated in communiqué released this Saturday.

Syria and Russian Federation, which now control Douma, deny chemical arms were used.

Their goal was to get to Douma, the suburb Western governments say was the site of a chlorine gas attack by President Bashar al-Assad.

Medical workers and activists in Douma at the time said at least 40 people were killed.

They were supposed to enter the town on Wednesday but the visit was delayed because United Nations risk assessment team came under fire while checking sites Tuesday.

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The OPCW said in a statement that it visited "one of the sites" in Douma to collect samples for analysis at agency-designated laboratories, adding it would "consider future steps including another possible visit to Douma". The attackers claimed the Syrian government was responsible for the attack.

Inspectors have now finally visited one of the sites of the alleged attack report ITV - but their visit was heavily delayed after they were shot at when approaching the area.

And "nerve agents like sarin can be present in the environment for many weeks after use and particularly if you look near the site where a weapon has exploded", he told AFP.

But they had been unable to access Douma itself, which fell from rebel hands into joint Syrian and Russian control after the suspected chemical attack.

Even the Foreign Ministry of Russia said Saturday that Russian and Allied forces experienced guaranteed safe passage for the O.P.C.W. team and implied that any flaws inside their trip had been caused by these.

"If the mission can not demonstrate that chlorine or sarin was used as weapons at the site, they would present the evidence they have and point to possible scenarios that might explain" it, he said.

Experts have warned that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons inspectors face an uphill challenge.