The UN Security Council (UNSC) has approved a draft resolution on setting up a mechanism to identify those responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Unanimously adopted by the 15-member body, the resolution stresses the obligation of the Syrian Government and all parties in the country to extend full cooperation to the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for the mission.
The concerned parties are being urged to provide the UN and OPCW with full access to all locations, individuals, and materials in Syria relevant for the Joint Investigative Mechanism.
Established for a period of one year with a possibility of future extension, the mechanism would be responsible for identifying 'individuals, entities, groups, or governments involved in the use of chemicals as weapons, including chlorine or any other toxic chemical' in Syria.
A statement issued by the spokesman for UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said: "He is pleased that the Security Council has decided to act and take the necessary action not just to halt the continued use of toxic chemicals as weapons by any party to the conflict, but also to send a strong collective message that any such use will not be tolerated.
"Holding the perpetrators of the toxic chemical attacks accountable may hopefully alleviate the prolonged suffering of the Syrian people."
The resolution also calls on all other states to cooperate fully, including providing any relevant information they may possess related to those involved in use of chemicals as weapons in Syria.
The UNSC body has requested the secretary-general and the director-general of OPCW to submit recommendations for the establishment of the mechanism within 20 days, and committed to respond to the recommendations within five days of receipt.
The UN and the OPCW successfully completed destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles and production facilities in October 2014.
In March this year, the council expressed deep concern that toxic chemicals, such as chlorine, had been used as a weapon in Syria, which was also confirmed by the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission with 'high-degree of confidence'.
Image: The US Vessel Cape Ray safely removed and destroyed 581t of a precursor chemical for sarin gas from Syria in 2014. Photo: courtesy of US Department of Transportation.