Syria Daily: OPCW Inspectors Complete Fact-Finding on Douma’s Chemical Attack Sites

A child receives medical treatment after Assad regime's chemical attacks on Douma in East Ghouta, Syria, April 7, 2018. (Halil el-Abdullah/Anadolu/Getty)

OPCW says no timetable for final report


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Inspectors have completed their initial fact-finding in Douma, the town near Syria’s capital Damascus where the Assad regime carried out chemical attacks from January to April during an offensive to regain the area.

The OPCW announced, after the inspectors took samples and interviewed witnesses, that initial analysis will take at least three to four weeks in The Netherlands. Meanwhile. the Fact-Finding Mission tries to collect more information and material. The organization said it can give no timetable for delivery of a final report.

Some accounts said the inspectors are also seeking to exhume bodies to examine the victims. Sources from Douma said locals had buried about 50 people to try and prevent the Assad regime and Russia from taking away all evidence of the attacks.

The Assad regime carried out at least seven chlorine attacks from mid-January before and during the main air and ground assault. It then carried out the double attack on April 7 — according to doctors, first responders, citizen journalists, activists, and NGOs — the first with chlorine and the second with chlorine and a stronger agent, both dropped by helicopters.

Rebels in Douma capitulated hours later as more chemical attacks were reportedly threatened, agreeing to forced removals to northern Syria. Russian personnel quickly went to the sites of the attacks, with local sources saying that evidence was removed and disturbed. The Assad regime and Russia also delayed inspections for a week by the OPCW, after its team arrived in Damascus on April 14, while Moscow blocked any attribution of blame for the mass killing.


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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

6 COMMENTS

  1. “Inspectors have completed their initial fact-finding in Douma, the town near Syria’s capital Damascus where the Assad regime carried out chemical attacks from January to April during an offensive to regain the area.”

    Isn’t it the job of the OPCW to determine if there has actually been a chemical attack before any fingers are pointed?

    • Yes, and until November 2017 they had the authority to both determine the agents used in an attack and attribute responsibility for the use of them.

      Then Russia blocked any attribution of responsibility through a veto in the UN Security Council.

      • It is unclear if the OPCW have exhumed any of the alleged victims of the attack:

        OPCW inspectors to exhume bodies of victims of chemical attack in Douma:

        According to the FT, the OPCW director stated the following: “From the bodies already buried we are looking for ways to exhume if possible and take some biological samples,”

      • Yes, and until November 2017 they had the authority to both determine the agents used in an attack and attribute responsibility for the use of them.

        The terms of reference do not preclude the OPCW from determining what agents were used. Responsibility would be largely determined from evidence that the OPCW obtains.

    • Turkey will sell out Idlib in an eyeblink, after it secures some sort of concession from Assad for its occupation of Afrin and AlBab. Then it will ally with Assad to occupy and divvy up Manbij and other parts of Rojava. Once Erdogan is re-elected for life, Idlib and Jisr will fall.

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