MOSCOW, May 27 (RIA Novosti) – No experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were injured during an attack by armed militants in Syria, the organization said in an official statement on Tuesday.
"All team members are safe and well and are travelling back to the operating base," the statement said.
The 11-person convoy of OPCW inspectors and United Nations staff was abducted by armed militants Tuesdsay morning while travelling to the site of an alleged chlorine gas attack in Syria, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said.
"Our inspectors are in Syria to establish the facts in relation to persistent allegations of chlorine gas attacks," OPCW Director-General Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü said in the statement.
"Their safety is our primary concern, and it is imperative that all parties to the conflict grant them safe and secure access," he added.
Earlier reports indicated that the kidnapping took place in the countryside around Hama in central Syria on Tuesday. The ministry blamed the abduction on rebels struggling to oust President Bashar Assad, accusing them of committing "terrorist crimes" against US staff and the OPCW.
Earlier this month, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) deployed a mission of experts to investigate claims of a chemical weapons attack in the militant-held village of Kafr Zeita in Syria’s Hama province in April.
The Syrian government agreed to aid the mission and provide security in areas under its control.
Media reports at the time claimed that at least two people were killed and about 100 injured in a chlorine gas attack on Kafr Zeita.
The Syrian government implicated an al-Qaeda-affiliated rebel group, al-Nusra Front, in the attack. Opposition groups claimed, however, that government planes had bombed the town with explosive barrels that produced thick smoke, causing suffocation and poisoning.