The UN said Friday that inspectors returned to Syria on Wednesday to investigate seven chemical weapon attacks, including three that occurred after the August 21 incident in Damascus [JURIST report]. The investigation is set to be finished by Monday, followed by a separate visit by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) [official website]. The OPCW will inspect Syria's chemical weapon stockpile. On Friday evening the OPCW will vote on a draft agreement which will be incorporated into a UN Security Council resolution, to which the US and Russia have agreed.
The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Last week UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised [JURIST report] the Syrian government's formal agreement to sign and abide by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) [text, PDF; OPCD backgrounder]. CWC signatories must agree to "chemically disarm" by destroying chemical weapon stockpiles and creating enforcement mechanisms to ensure that chemical weapons will not be produced, acquired or transferred within their jurisdiction. Rights groups accused [JURIST report] the Syrian government of responsibility for August 21 chemical weapon attacks, which allegedly involved the use of sarin nerve gas. Syria's main opposition group in August urged the UN [JURIST report] to probe numerous massacres they say were committed during Ramadan by forces loyal to Assad.