Chemical weapons watchdog to convene for discussions on Syrian attack

Chemical weapons watchdog to convene for discussions on Syrian attack

Today’s session is part of a push by Syrian ally Russia to return efforts towards a diplomatic solution within international forums and organisations.

OPCW-nobel-peace-prize-winner-2-ftr

Photo: AP/Peter Dejong

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will hold a special session today to discuss the use of chemical weapons in Syria on April 7 against both civilians and rebel forces.

Following joint military action by France, the UK and the US in a punitive strike on suspected chemical weapons facilities, today’s session is part of a push by Syrian ally Russia to return efforts towards a diplomatic solution within international forums and organisations. The meeting is also likely to focus on how Syria reacquired or retained part of a chemical weapon presumed destroyed under a 2013 agreement that also saw it join the OPCW. With an OPCW mission having arrived in Damascus, the investigation will now examine whether prohibited chemical weapons or legal and dual-use chemicals were used in the most recent attack.

However, as with the chemical attacks of April 2017 that prompted the US’ last action against Syria, the OPCW may take months before a releasing a final determination. In the near-term, representatives will likely seek to raise concerns about how the OPCW intends to boost its monitoring capabilities for the future.

Delver deeper: What Syrian chemical attacks mean for the players involved