Security Council approves investigative panel for Syria chemical attacks
The United Nations Security Council has approved the UN chief’s recommendations for launching an international investigation to determine who was responsible for the deadly chemical attacks in Syria.
On Thursday, the 15-member council endorsed a letter to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in support of a joint investigative mechanism proposed by the UN and the global chemical weapons watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The letter, which was signed by Russia’s ambassador to the UN and the Security Council’s current president, Vitaly Churkin, authorizes Ban’s recommendations for the establishment of a three-member independent panel with the freedom of movement to go anywhere in Syria to identify the perpetrators of chemical attacks in the Arab country.
The development came after the Security Council unanimously voted on August 7 in favor of a resolution on the creation of the panel aimed at punishing the perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria through possible sanctions.
The United States has long been accusing Damascus of using chemical weapons against the Syrian people.
Damascus, however, has constantly dismissed the allegations. Russia has also repeatedly argued that there is no proof that the Syrian government is behind any toxic attacks in the Arab country.
Last year, Syria handed over 1,300 tons of its chemical stockpile to a joint UN-OPCW mission for destruction.
The foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria, which flared in March 2011, has claimed some 250,000 lives up until now, according to reports.
The UN says the militancy has displaced more than 7.2 million Syrians internally, and compelled over four million others to take refuge in neighboring countries, including Jordan and Lebanon.