A new chemical weapons investigation team has started work on identifying the culprits behind alleged attacks in Syria, AFP reported Friday (June 28th).
Member states of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) agreed one year ago to give the watchdog new powers to assign blame.
Previously the OPCW only had the mandate to state whether or not chemical weapons had been used, without identifying the likely culprits.
Syria has already blocked access to the chief of the Identification and Investigation Team, while Moscow and Damascus have accused the Hague-based OPCW of becoming "politicised".
The team "has initiated its work to identify the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic", OPCW director-general Fernando Arias said in a statement to member states issued Monday.
The team will be "identifying and reporting on all information potentially relevant to the origin of those chemical weapons" where their use has previously been identified by OPCW teams, he said.
Arias did not give any details of the team's initial activities or which incidents it would be investigating first. It is able to probe attacks as far back as 2013.
He said the "very small but very strong" team would have nine or 10 members.