The investigation team in charge of identifying perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks in Syria will produce its first report "in the next few months," the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Tuesday.
Fernando Arias gave the update to reporters after a private meeting with the U.N. Security Council when asked about the lack of accountability and justice for victims of chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
The OPCW voted to apportion blame for poison gas and nerve agent attacks last year after Russia used its Security Council veto to terminate a joint U.N.-OPCW investigative body set up in 2015 to determine responsibility for chemical attacks. Russia, a close ally of Syria, claimed the U.N.-OPCW team was not professional or objective in its investigations.
Russia, a close ally of Syria, claimed the UN-OPCW team was not professional or objective in its investigations.
The OPCW was created to implement a 1997 treaty that banned chemical weapons, but had lacked a mandate to name the parties it found responsible for using them.
Britain led the successful campaign in June 2018 to give the 193-nation chemical weapons watchdog new teeth, over Russian objections.
Before its mandate was terminated, the UN-OPCW team had accused Syria of using chlorine gas in at least two attacks in 2014 and 2015 and the nerve agent sarin in an aerial attack on Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017 that killed some 100 people and affected about 200 others. That attack led to a US airstrike on a Syrian airfield.
The team also accused the Islamic State extremist group of using mustard gas twice in 2015 and 2016.
Arias, the OPCW director-general, said the organisation's identification investigation team is in charge of naming perpetrators, "and in the next few months we are going to be in a position to produce the first report".
Source: The Washington Post.