OPCW team takes samples from Douma site

The fact-finding mission is investigating an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria

OPCW team takes samples from Douma site

United Nations vehicles carrying the team of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) arrive at a hotel in Damascus, Syria | Image: Bassem Mroue/AP/Press Association Images

A team from the chemical weapons watching the OPCW has taken samples for examination from the scene of a suspected attack in Syria.

The fact-finding mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) visited one of the sites in Douma on Saturday.

The OPCW says it will evaluate the situation and consider future steps, including another possible visit to the site.

The samples are being taken to the OPCW laboratory in the Netherlands.

They will then be sent for analysis to designated labs.

The group says: "Based on the analysis of the sample results as well other information and materials collected by the team, the ( fact-finding mission) will compile their report for submission to the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention for their consideration."

The samples were taken in connection with allegations that chemical weapons were used there on April 7th.

That attack killed more than 40 people and injured dozens more - with some estimates putting the death toll as high as 70.

The US, UK and France launched military strikes on Syria following the suspected attack.

The issues in Syria are top of the agenda at the UN Security Council meeting in Sweden this weekend.

Speaking from there, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said: "I think we need in Syria essentially two things.

"First, to understand that there is no military solution but that the situation is political.

"The way for a political solution is known: it is the resolution of the Security Council number 2254, with a communiqué in Geneva, and it is through the intra-Syrian talks between government and opposition to be able to overcome differences that exist.


UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the 15 members of the United Nations Security Council in Backåkra, Sweden | Image: Moa Haeggblom

"And the second thing is that we really need to find a way - in relation to violations to international law that the use of chemical weapons represent - we need to find a way... we need accountability.

"We cannot go on living with impunity in relation to what has been happening with weapons that should have disappeared from the face of the world."

In response to a question on whether the 15-member Security Council had a roadmap for a solution to end the conflict, Mr Guterres said that "everything" needed to be put on track, and there was "still a long way to go" to achieve unity.

He is hosting a retreat for council members in the home of his predecessor in the 1950s, Dag Hammarskjöld, who was killed in a plane crash in 1961.