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Chemical watchdog convenes as Syria mission begins

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By Agence France-Presse

The global chemical arms watchdog held emergency talks Monday in The Hague on an alleged Syrian regime attack on Douma, where a team of its experts was beginning its field work.

The global chemical arms watchdog held emergency talks at its headquarters in The Hague on April 16, 2018 as a team of experts was set to begin field work in the Syrian town of Douma, site of an alleged regime chemical attack. (AFP photo)

The global chemical arms watchdog held emergency talks at its headquarters in The Hague on April 16, 2018 as a team of experts was set to begin field work in the Syrian town of Douma, site of an alleged regime chemical attack. (AFP photo)

Ambassadors convened at the OPCW’s headquarters two days after an unprecedented wave of punitive missile strikes launched by Western powers before a fact-finding team could investigate.

Talks were held behind closed doors at the Netherlands seat of the Nobel Peace prize-winning Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, two days after its mission arrived in Damascus.

The team had been expected to begin their field work on Sunday but they met with officials at their Damascus hotel instead and a strict media blackout was imposed on their schedule.

In the Syrian capital, thousands of people gathered on the main Umayyad square to express their support for President Bashar al-Assad in the aftermath of the missile strikes.
AFP / Thomas SAINT-CRICQ Syria strikes

The missiles that US, French and British warships fired on suspected chemical facilities Saturday were the biggest Western attack against the regime in the seven-year war.

The targeted sites were largely empty but US President Donald Trump hailed a “perfectly executed” operation.

Trump’s “Mission Accomplished” tweet earned him parallels with George W. Bush’s fatefully premature victory speech days after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

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