THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 25 April 2018 — The Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) deployed to Damascus on 14 April 2018 to gather facts in connection with the reported use of chemical weapons in Douma, Syrian Arab Republic on 7 April 2018. Security arrangements for the team’s deployment to various locations in Douma were made by the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) in liaison with the Syrian authorities and the Russian Military Police. Due to the security situation the team was only able to visit Douma on 21 April. The team also interviewed some people related to the Douma incident, who were brought to Damascus.
Today, the FFM team carried out a visit to a second location in Douma. It also collected samples at this site. These samples will be brought back, together with other samples, to the OPCW laboratory in Rijswik. They will be split and dispatched for analysis by the OPCW designated labs.
Meanwhile, the OPCW Technical Secretariat was informed by the Russian delegation to the OPCW that it will organise a briefing for States Parties in The Hague on 26 April. The delegation would bring some Syrians to speak about the reported Douma incident. In line with Director-General’s earlier requests to States Parties to share information on the Douma incident, the Secretariat advised the Russian delegation that these persons should be first interviewed by the FFM. It was also recommended that such a briefing take place once the FFM has completed its work. Nevertheless, the Russian delegation stated that it would go ahead with the briefing and that its intention was not to interfere with the FFM’s work.
The FFM will continue to carry out its independent and impartial mission based on interviews with relevant people, its findings from the site visits, analysis of the sample results, as well as any other information and materials collected.
The Director-General is confident that the OPCW FFM will continue to enjoy the support of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Set up in April 2014, the on-going mandate of the OPCW Fact Finding Mission (FFM) is to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic. The current mandate of the FFM does not include attribution.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997 – with its 192 States Parties – it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
Over 96 per cent of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor States have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace.