Chemical weapons inspectors return from site of suspected attack in Syria

  • Video report by ITV News correspondent Dan Rivers

  • ITV News journalist Jonathan Wald contributed reporting to this story

Chemical weapons inspectors have returned from the site of a suspected chemical attack in Syria and should have results from any samples within around a week.

Inspectors from the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were delayed for one week in Damascus before they could visit the town of Douma, where the alleged attack occurred.

Russia has been accused of preventing inspectors reaching the site where 75 people were thought to have died in the rebel-held town of Douma exactly two weeks ago.

There have been fears in Western capitals that much of the evidence of what happened on April 7 will no longer be there.

ITV News recorded footage of the OPCW convoy returning from its mission.

ITV News journalist Jonathan Wald has spoken to a senior Syrian Government official who said the OPCW inspectors were in Douma for about 10 hours between roughly 6am and 3:30pm local time.

ITV News learned further information about the incident on Wednesday April 18th when the OPCW said the UN’s security personnel, carrying out a security assessment ahead of the inspectors’ visit, came under small arms fire and an explosive detonated.

The senior Syrian Government official said the UN security team was attacked by a suicide bomber from the militant group Jaysh al-Islam and the attack injured a Russian soldier and caused minor injuries to another Russian soldier and two Syrian bystanders.

The same Syrian Government official insisted that they have not at any point hindered the OPCW as the chemical weapons inspectors have attempted to enter Douma since at least Sunday, April 15th when they first arrived in Damascus.

The OPCW has said it will evaluate the situation and consider future steps including another possible visit to Douma.

The samples collected will be transported to the OPCW Laboratory in Rijswijk and then dispatched for analysis to the OPCW’s designated labs.

The US, France, and Britain blamed the Syrian government for the attack, and struck suspected Syrian chemical weapons facilities one week later.

Russia, the Syrian regime's principle backer, has insisted there is no proof that chemical weapons had even been used in Douma.

A UN security team touring Douma on Tuesday came under small arms and explosives fire, leading the OPCW to postpone its visit.

The US and Britain accused the Syrian government and Russia of delaying the investigation to stage a cover up.

Images that emerged from Douma in the hours after the attack showed lifeless bodies collapsed in crowded rooms, some with foam around their noses and mouths.

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