Bomb keeps weapons team from gas strike site

 

An international team of weapons inspectors in Syria were reportedly attacked Tuesday, as they tried to verify the location of a chlorine gas strike.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) told The Associated Press that “all team members are safe and well and are travelling back to the operating base,” despite earlier claims from the Syrian Foreign Ministry that members of the group had been kidnapped.

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The Geneva-based OPCW has been working with the United Nations to eliminate the Syrian government’s stockpile of deadly chemical agents. About 92.5 percent of the materials have already removed from the country ahead of a June 30 deadline.

Yet U.S. intelligence services have widely concluded the Assad government was responsible for an April chlorine gas attack near the town of Kfar Zeita. While the substance is not banned under the chemical weapons compact, use of the toxic agent would be a major breach of international law.

The inspectors’ four-vehicle convoy was headed to the town to verify the substance had been used when a roadside bomb hit one of the vehicles, forcing them to turn back.

“Our inspectors are in Syria to establish the facts in relation to persistent allegations of chorine gas attacks,” OPCW chief Ahmet Uzumcu said. “Their safety is our primary concern, and it is imperative that all parties to the conflict grant them safe and secure access."