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17 November 2017, 01:12 | Simon Arnold
UNSC to vote on Syria chem gas attacks probe
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday urged all members of the U.N. Security Council to back the renewal of the global inquiry into chemical weapons attacks in Syria, saying it was needed to prevent President Bashar al-Assad from using the arms, Reuters reports.
Russian Federation has now vetoed 10 resolutions on Syria, including blocking an initial USA bid on 24 October to renew the JIM, saying it wanted to wait for the release two days later of the inquiry's report that said the Syrian government used sarin.
Russian Federation said Tuesday it is talking to the United States about renewing the mandate of experts working to determine who was responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria, but the US says Moscow won't consider the American draft resolution. Syria accepted a Russian proposal in 2013 to relinquish its chemical weapons stockpile.
"Everyone in the Security Council would be shooting ourselves in the foot if we allowed that to happen", he said.
At the outset of the meeting, Russian Federation withdrew its draft resolution but it was re-submitted and the council agreed to hold a second vote on that text.
The Kremlin sharply criticized the JIM after its latest report blamed the Assad regime for a sarin gas attack on the opposition-held village of Khan Sheikhoun that killed dozens. She accused Moscow of "killing" the resolution, which had received backing from most members of the UN Security Council, and of "undermining" the UN's ability to prevent chemical attacks in the future.
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. A resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by the United States, France, Russia, Britain or China to be adopted.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre said the Russian veto was a blow to worldwide efforts to curb the use of chemical weapons.
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.
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. That averted a US military strike in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta.
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