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The world’s chemical weapons watchdog is to send a team to Syria to investigate an alleged chlorine gas attack on civilians by President Bashar Assad’s government forces, it announced Tuesday.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said the Syrian government had agreed to the mission, and will provide security in areas under its control.
The U.S. said last week there were “indications” that a “toxic industrial chemical,” possibly chlorine, was used in Syria during the last month and that it was examining claims Assad's regime was responsible. Some accounts also suggest the possible use of ammonia bombs.
The announcement of the mission came as a car bomb in a pro-government neighborhood in the city of Homs and other attacks in Damascus killed at least 51 people – and a day after Assad declared his candidacy for the June 3 presidential elections, a race he is likely to win amid the raging civil war.
Rebels in Daria, near Damascus, say the town was targeted earlier this month with small barrel bombs that appeared to contain chlorine gas.
The OPCW team is expected to leave for Syria soon, the organization said, but a spokesman told NBC News that neither the exact departure date, nor the duration of the mission could be confirmed.
Reuters contributed to this report.