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Chemical weapons investigators enter Syria's Douma district: report

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-04-17 21:15
Damascus' skies erupt with surface-to-air missile fire as the US launches an attack targeting different parts of Syrian capital Damascus on Saturday, April 14, 2018. Syria's capital was rocked by loud explosions that lit up the sky with heavy smoke, as US President Donald Trump announced airstrikes in retaliation for the country's alleged use of chemical weapons. [Photo/IC]

DAMASCUS - Investigators of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) entered the Douma district in east of Syrian capital Damascus on Tuesday to start investigating the allegations of chemical weapons use, state TV reported.

No more details were disclosed about the entry of the team to the previously rebel-held district, where an alleged gas attack by Syrian troops reportedly killed dozens of people and triggered off the US-led joint airstrikes on Syria on Saturday morning.

Syria has strongly rejected the allegations as fabrication by the rebels and Western countries to justify a military attack on the country.

The OPCW investigators, who arrived in Damascus on Saturday, have held several meetings with Syrian officials.

The Syrian government and its ally Russia had urged the OPCW to send a team to Douma to investigate the alleged use of chlorine gas.

Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said his government is keen to cooperate with the investigators, state news agency SANA reported.

Mekdad said that the investigators had held meetings with the Syrian government and discussed about carrying out its work with transparency, impartiality, and accuracy.

The US-led military strike on Syria has been widely criticized for prejudgment before the investigators reach a conclusion on if there was a gas attack or who should be responsible for it.

It is not the first time that the Syrian government has been accused of using chemical weapons. In April, 2017, the US launched a similar missile attack on a Syrian air base in the central province of Homs over the same allegation.

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