CBS footage from inside Douma. Picture: CBS/Screengrab.
CBS footage from inside Douma. Picture: CBS/Screengrab.

Damning find at Syrian attack site

FIRST footage from inside the Syrian town of Douma that was allegedly subject to a chemical weapons attack has emerged, apparently showing a missile shell at the site.

Video filmed by CBS shows locals wandering the streets in the devastated town, more than one week on from an apparent chemical attack that is believed to have killed at least 40 people and led the US, UK and France to launch air strikes against Syrian government forces.

The report shows rubble-lined streets and buildings destroyed. Journalist Seth Doane visits the building shown in previous footage filmed by humanitarian groups and speaks with one local who described the moment the weapons struck.

"All of a sudden some gas spread around us, we couldn't breathe. It smelled like chlorine," he said.

Another man, Nasr Hanan, showed a video of a man he claimed was his brother, Hamzeh, foaming at the mouth and said the chemicals rained down from the sky. He pointed out what appeared to be a resting missile shell outside the building.

Inside Douma where weapons inspectors are waiting to enter. Picture: AP Photo/Hassan Ammar.
Inside Douma where weapons inspectors are waiting to enter. Picture: AP Photo/Hassan Ammar.

 

The city near Damascus had been under rebel control but is now run by the Syrian government. Picture: AP Photo/Hassan Ammar.
The city near Damascus had been under rebel control but is now run by the Syrian government. Picture: AP Photo/Hassan Ammar.

The footage comes as chemical weapons inspectors are due to be given access to the site amid growing fears it may have been tampered with.

Syria and Russia have denied any responsibility for the attack. Russia claimed its inspectors found no sign of chemicals in the town or evidence of locals having suffered, blaming humanitarian groups for staging the event to justify air strikes against the Syrian regime.

Russia's Ambassador to the UK also suggested air strikes could be used to "cover up all the evidence or lack thereof on the ground."

Ambassador Yakovenko also insisted Russian security services "did not find any traces of chemical substances. No persons treated for chemical poisoning were found in local hospitals, in a briefing last week.

Syrian authorities distribute bread, vegetables and pasta to Douma residents. Picture: AP Photo/Hassan Ammar.
Syrian authorities distribute bread, vegetables and pasta to Douma residents. Picture: AP Photo/Hassan Ammar.

 

Meanwhile the US has accused Russia of blocking inspectors access to the site and raised fears evidence may have been removed.

"It is our understanding the Russians may have visited the attack site," US Ambassador Kenneth Ward said at an Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) meeting on Monday.

"It is our concern that they may have tampered with it with the intent of thwarting the efforts of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission to conduct an effective investigation," he said.

Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) travelled to Syria last week to inspect the site, but have yet to gain access to Douma, which is now under government control after the rebels withdrew.

The US, UK and France carried out air strikes over the weekend against Syrian government chemical facilities, insisting that use of the weapons was a "red line" that could not be crossed.

While not all G7 nations took part, other nations including Germany have backed the "proportionate" efforts to "decrease the capacity to use chemical weapons".

 

 

 

 

Faisal Mekdad, Syria's deputy foreign minister, said on Monday that his country is
Faisal Mekdad, Syria's deputy foreign minister, said on Monday that his country is "fully ready" to co-operate with the fact-finding mission from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Picture: AP Photo/Hassan Ammar.


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