Chemical weapons team in Syria attacked but safe-organisation

by Reuters
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 11:00 GMT

United Nations (U.N.) vehicles transporting a team of experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) leave their hotel in Damascus, Syria, October 22, 2013. REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri

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By Anthony Deutsch and Dominic Evans

AMSTERDAM/BEIRUT, May 27 (Reuters) - A team of international experts investigating alleged use of chlorine bombs in Syria came under attack on Tuesday but all members of the team were safely returning to base, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said.

Syria accused rebel fighters on Tuesday of abducting members of the joint OPCW/U.N. fact-finding team who had travelled to the central province of Hama to investigate allegations of illegal chlorine attacks.

France says it believes there have been 14 such attacks with the chemical in recent months.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that two cars carrying 11 people - five Syrian drivers and six members of the fact-finding mission - were "seized by terrorist groups".

The team had been trying to reach the village of Kfar Zeita where a ceasefire had been agreed between 8 am and 6 pm to allow it to carry out its work, the ministry said.

One of their cars was hit by a bomb, forcing the convoy to turn back, it said, but only one of the vehicles returned successfully.

(Additional reporting By Dominic Evans; Editing by Angus MacSwan) 

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