United Nations braces for likely Russian veto of Syria gas attacks probe

JESSE JACKSON

Russia's deputy ambassador to the U.N., Vladimir Safronkov, dismissed the JIM's findings about Khan Sheikhoun as "mythical or invented", asking how Syria could be blamed since investigators never visited the town or the air base where the sarin attack was claimed to have been launched.

Before the voting, Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya said Russian Federation was withdrawing its draft as the Security Council had refused to satisfy Moscow's request to consider the U.S. draft first.

Thursday's resolution received 11 votes in favor and two against, with two abstentions.

A resolution requires nine votes to be adopted at the council, but five countries - Russia, Britain, China, France and the United States - can block adoption with their veto power.

Describing Iran, Russia and Turkey as the three "guarantor" countries, he said the talks would look at what they could do for a lasting political solution in Syria.

Washington and its allies have blamed President Bashar Assad's government for the Khan Sheikhoun attack, but Syria has denied using chemical weapons, with strong backing from Russian Federation.




However, he stressed that this mandate should be "renewed" to correct the "systemic flaws" affecting the work of the current investigative mission.

The United States and Russia, Syria's ally, have put forward rival draft resolutions on renewing the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), tasked with investigating Syria's toxic gas attacks.

The joint UN-Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons panel was set up by Russian Federation and the United States in 2015 and unanimously endorsed by the council, which renewed its mandate past year. The Russian OPCW envoy, Alexander Shulgin, said a week ago that the investigation in fact is particularly "skewed" towards one theory behind the chemical attack in Syria's Idlib province that took place in April.

US President Donald Trump had urged all Security Council members to renew the mandate to ensure that Assad's regime "does not commit mass murder with chemical weapons ever again". The UN Security Council failed to adopt USA -drafted resolution extending mandate of mechanism investigating chemical attacks in Syria on Thursday.

Previous reports by the JIM have found that Syrian government forces were responsible for chlorine attacks on three villages in 2014 and 2015, and that the Islamic State group used mustard gas in 2015.

"Only by doing so can the perpetrators of chemical weapon attacks in Syria and those accountable be brought to justice and can the Syrian people be freed from the suffering caused by chemical weapon attacks", Wu added. "Russian Federation has undermined our ability to deter future attacks", Haley said, accusing Moscow of "playing games" with the council's attempt to renew the chemical weapons investigation.

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