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United Nations to vote on rival US, Russia bids to renew Syria inquiry

17 November, 2017, 01:39 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Russia Demands that US Respect Agreement on Antiterrorism in Syria

Russian Federation and the United States have put forward rival draft resolutions on renewing for a year the mandate of the UN-led Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), tasked with identifying perpetrators of Syria's toxic gas attacks.

Ahead of the council vote, Trump on Thursday urged the Security Council to renew the inquiry, saying it was needed to prevent Assad from using chemical weapons.

"We are engaging with them", he said.

It means that the JIM's mandate expires at midnight Thursday, rather than be extended for another year.

Russian Federation has sharply criticized the JIM after its latest report blamed the Syrian air force for a sarin gas attack on the opposition-held village of Khan Sheikhun that left scores dead.

The attack on April 4 triggered global outrage as images of dying children were shown worldwide, prompting the United States to launch missile strikes on a Syrian air base a few days later.

Russia's move drew harsh criticism from US Ambassador Nikki Haley, who said Russian Federation had struck a "deep blow" to United Nations efforts to identify those using chemical weapons and deter future attacks.

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.

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

Eleven of the council's 15 members voted in favor of the US-drafted resolution, while Egypt and China abstained.

"The United States hopes the Security Council will stand united in the face of chemical weapons use against civilians and extend the work of this critical group", the U.S. mission to the United Nations said in a statement on Wednesday.

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

Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the USA draft resolution was not balanced.

The joint UN-Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) panel was set up by Russian Federation and the United States in 2015 and unanimously endorsed by the council, which renewed its mandate previous year.

While Russia agreed to the 2015 creation of the inquiry, known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), it has consistently questioned its findings, which also concluded that the Syrian government used chlorine as a weapon several times.

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