OPCW experts enter Douma to probe suspected gas attack: Syrian state media

The three Western powers fired around 100 missiles at three suspected chemical facilities in Syria on Saturday, saying they had proof that the government of President Bashar al-Assad was behind the Douma attack.

The U.S. also said it fears the site may have been tampered with.

Russia's representative at the OPCW Alexander Shulgin accused the West of pre-judging the inspection and blaming Moscow for blocking access to the site.

It was not known who carried out the attack, with Pentagon spokesman Heather Babb saying: "There are no USA or coalition operations in that area".

"We can not go back to a world where the use of chemical weapons becomes normalised".

Until Saturday, Douma was the last rebel-held town near Damascus, and the target of a government offensive in February and March that killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands.

The OPCW experts are tasked with finding out whether chemical weapons were used in the April 7 strike.

OPCW Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü said the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) had chose to carry out reconnaissance at two sites in the town of Douma before the inspectors would visit them.

On Monday, the AP visited a two-room underground shelter where Khaled Mahmoud Nuseir said 47 people were killed, including his pregnant wife and two daughters, 18-month-old Qamar and 2 1/2-year-old Nour.

Several said a unusual smell started spreading and people screamed: "It's chlorine!"

Mr Igor Kirillov, head of Russia's radiological, biological and chemical protection unit, told reporters the roads still had to be de-mined and cleared and would be tested by United Nations security services on Tuesday. The Syrian military later said a false alarm set off air defense systems early Tuesday, retracting earlier reports of a pre-dawn "outside aggression" on its airfields in the central Homs region and a suburb of Damascus. He showed CBS News what he said was the origin of the deadly gas: a missile on the roof of the building.

The delegation from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) entered the town near the capital, Damascus, along with the Syrian health minister on Tuesday, a source close to the government told Germany's DPA news agency.

"On Wednesday is when we plan the arrival of the OPCW experts", he added at a press conference in the Russian embassy in The Hague. Government forces and Russian troops have been deployed in Douma, which is now controlled by the Syrian government.

However, Russia has repeatedly denied all allegations.

"It was Russian Federation that supported the request of the Syrian government to the Director General of the Technical Secretariat of the [Organization for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons] to send ... experts to Douma", the ministry's spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova said, dismissing the media allegations.

It included a visit to the main hospital to which the victims of the alleged chemical attack where taken.

  • David Armstrong