The UN Security Council Friday voted unanimously to adopt a resolution aimed at getting rid of Syria's chemical weapons.
The vote came after the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an international chemical watchdog, agreed on a plan to destroy Syria's stockpile by mid-2014, reports Xinhua.
Earlier this month, a UN fact-finding group confirmed the use of chemical weapons in an attack outside the Syrian capital of Damascus Aug 21, but did not state who was responsible.
The new binding resolution condemned the use of chemical weapons, but did not attribute blame, stating that the UN Security Council "is deeply outraged" by the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict and that "the use of chemical weapons anywhere constitutes a threat to international peace and security".
The document has two legally binding demands: Syria abandon its weapons stockpile, and chemical weapons experts be given unfettered access.
The resolution states: "The Security Council decides that the Syrian Arab Republic shall not use, develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons, or transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons to other States or non-State actors."
The Security Council, it added, also "underscores that no party in Syria should use, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, retain, or transfer chemical weapons".
The resolution requires Syria to comply with the plan adopted by the OPCW, whose staff formed part of the UN inspection team probing the use of chemical weapons.
Following the adoption of the plan, the OPCW said in a statement that its executive council had "agreed on an accelerated programme for achieving the complete elimination of Syria's chemical weapons by mid-2014".
"The decision requires inspections in Syria to commence from 1 October 2013," said the statement. "The decision also calls for ambitious milestones for destruction which will be set by the (executive) council by 15 November."
Speaking at the Security Council shortly after the vote, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed the new resolution, saying: "Today's historic resolution is the first hopeful news on Syria in a long time."
"For many months, I have said that the confirmed use of chemical weapons in Syria would require a firm, united response," he added. "Tonight, the international community has delivered."