THE HAGUE, May 28 (Xinhua) -- The inspection team of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), arrived in Damascus safely after a security incident happened on Tuesday, OPCW said in a statement Wednesday.
"All members of the team are safe and well, although one driver has sustained minor injuries," OPCW said.
The team with experts and officials of the OPCW and the United Nations, was en route to Kafr Zita as part of its mission to establish the facts surrounding allegations of use of chlorine in Syria.
The visit was subject to a rigorous security assessment and a local ceasefire had been carefully negotiated for the day with the Government of Syria as well as with armed opposition groups in the area.
According to the statement, the attack happened shortly after leaving government-controlled territory.
"The lead vehicle in the convoy was struck by an improvised explosive device (IED) sustaining severe damage," said the statement. "The team members were rescued and shifted to two other vehicles in the convoy which turned back to move to a safer location. While entering a built-up area the convoy was ambushed; the first vehicle was shot at from close range with automatic weapons hitting the body, windows and tires."
"The occupants of the two remaining vehicles, who were briefly detained by some gunmen, were later released upon the intervention of the main opposition group with whom the ceasefire and security arrangements had been negotiated," the statement added.
OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu spoke to the Head of the Mission and the Team Leader in Damascus and praised the dedication and commitment of the OPCW and UN personnel, "who showed great courage in undertaking such a high-risk mission."
"It was a sad day for the people of Syria, and for the international community, because of a blatant attempt to prevent the facts being brought to light," Uzumcu said in the statement. "This will not, however, prevent the OPCW from raising its voice against the cruelty of use of toxic chemicals to kill and harm indiscriminately."