Russia, US at Odds Before Vote on Syria Chemical Weapons Team

Russia Demands that US Respect Agreement on Antiterrorism in Syria
UNSC to vote on Syria chem gas attacks probe
Author

17 November, 2017

The continuing dispute means that the United Nations Security Council may deadlock over the issue in a vote planned for Thursday, with Russian Federation potentially vetoing a US proposal after the team's initial report on the sarin gas attack received broad worldwide support.

Russian Federation vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Thursday that would have renewed a mandate for the independent group investigating chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

The mandate of the current investigative mission expires on Thursday.

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".

Russia, Syria's most important ally, has been seeking changes in the way the JIM operates.

Rycroft said after the veto that Russian Federation has "failed as a supposed supporter of peace in Syria".

United Nations diplomats said they were expecting a Russian veto of the U.S. text during the council meeting scheduled for 3:00 pm (2000 GMT).

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The 4 April sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed dozens of people prompted the United States to launch missiles on a Syrian air base.

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.

He also said that the inquiry fails "basic standards" of an investigation and ignores any information that would cast doubt on Damascus's involvement in the April incident.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said this week that scrapping the chemical weapons probe in Syria "may send a bad signal, but the way the investigation has been conducted sends an even worse signal".

The mandate for the joint inquiry by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which found the Syrian government used the banned nerve agent sarin in an April 4 attack, expires at midnight Thursday. That averted a US military strike in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta.

The JIM experts also said they were "confident" the Islamic State extremist group was responsible for an attack at Um Hosh in Aleppo in September 2016 using mustard gas.

"It promises great difficulties for the future", French Ambassador François Delattre told the council.

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