UN braces for likely Russian veto of Syria gas attacks probe

Casey Dawson
November 17, 2017

The UN Security Council will vote Thursday on whether to extend an investigation to determine who is behind chemical weapons attacks in Syria, with Russian Federation expected to cast a veto.

Washington and Moscow have put forward rival draft resolutions on renewing for a year the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), tasked with identifying perpetrators of Syria's toxic gas attacks.

President Donald Trump urged the council to support the panel's continued work, saying on Twitter that this would "ensure" that President Bashar al-Assad's "regime does not commit mass murder with chemical weapons ever again".

The vote is scheduled for 2000 GMT, just hours before the mandate of the so-called JIM expires at midnight.

The 15-nation council was due to vote on Thursday on rival US and Russian bids to renew the worldwide inquiry, diplomats said on Wednesday, a move that could trigger Russia's 10th veto to block action on Syria.

The Russian draft, by contrast, requests the JIM to visit Khan Sheikhoun and re-evaluate its findings.

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Rycroft said the majority of the Security Council's 15 member states supported the US resolution and he wasn't aware of any substantial meetings between Russian Federation and the U.S.to reach a compromise.

A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, France, Russia, Britain or China to be adopted.

In April, more than 80 people were killed in a sarin attack on the rebel-held Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun - an attack that prompted the United States to launch 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase. "Not doing so would only give consent to such atrocities while tragically failing the Syrian people who have suffered from these despicable acts". "The only victor would be the people who want to use chemical weapons in Syria - Assad and the Islamic State". Last month, Russian Federation vetoed a US -sponsored resolution to extend the panel's mandate, saying it needed to see the results of the panel's work before making a decision.

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.

The British broadcaster BBC, which is far from being a foreign agent in the United States, confirmed that the Pentagon coordinated the departure of more than 300 extremists disguised as civilians with the rest of the evacuated population of the Syrian city of Raqqa, the Russian foreign minister said.

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