A new chemical weapons investigation team with the power to assign blame for attacks such as those in Syria will start work in weeks, the head of the world’s toxic arms organisation said.
Member countries of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons agreed in June to allow the body to identify the perpetrators of chemical attacks, but the new powers are strongly opposed by Moscow and Damascus.
“The recruitment process of the members of the team is under way and is currently being finalised,” OPCW chief Fernando Arias said in a statement to The Hague-based body on Tuesday but not released until Wednesday.
Arias said the so-called Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) “will become fully operational in the coming weeks”.
Western states immediately called for the team to start work on identifying the culprits behind a deadly attack in the Syrian town of Douma in April 2018.
The OPCW said in a report on March 2 that chlorine was likely used in the attack, which it said killed more than 40 people.
The report however did not apportion blame as it was not in the watchdog’s mandate at the time.
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