A new chemical weapons investigation team has started work on identifying the culprits behind alleged attacks in Syria, the head of the world’s toxic arms watchdog said.

Member states of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) agreed one year ago to give The Hague-based body new powers to assign blame for attacks.

Syria has already blocked access to the chief of the so-called 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 on Monday but seen by AFP on Friday.

The team would 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.

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