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In Syria OPCW experts to begin arriving: Syria's UN envoy

Two groups of experts from the OPCW chemical watchdog will arrive in Syria on Thursday and Friday to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in a rebel-held town, Syria's UN ambassador Bashar Jaafari said.

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An image grab taken from a video released by the Syrian civil defence in Douma shows unidentified volunteers giving aid to children at a hospital following an alleged chemical attack on the rebel-held town on April 8, 2018 play

An image grab taken from a video released by the Syrian civil defence in Douma shows unidentified volunteers giving aid to children at a hospital following an alleged chemical attack on the rebel-held town on April 8, 2018

(AFP/File)

Two groups of experts from the OPCW chemical watchdog will arrive in Syria on Thursday and Friday to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in a rebel-held town, Syria's UN ambassador Bashar Jaafari said.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons decided to dispatch a fact-finding mission to the rebel-held town of Douma following reports that more than 40 died from exposure to toxic gas at the weekend.

"These two groups will arrive separately to Syria on Thursday as well as tomorrow, on Friday," Jaafari told reporters.

"We will facilitate the arrival of the team to anywhere they want, in Douma, to check wether or not there was use of chemical substances," Jaafari said.

The ambassador said Syria had "denied 1,000 times" reports that its forces had carried out chemical attacks.

He suggested that "terrorists" had acquired chemical weapons from Libya and that Turkish, Saudi, US and French intelligence had a hand in smuggling chemicals to the war zone.

Russia has said it had dispatched experts to Douma who had not found any evidence of chemical weapons use.

Jaafari spoke ahead of a closed-door Security Council meeting called by Bolivia, a strong supporter of Russia, to discuss the threat of military action against Syria.

After warning that "missiles were coming", President Donald Trump was evasive on Thursday, saying "an attack" on Syria "could be very soon or not so soon at all."

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