UN Security Council rejects Russian draft on Syria chemical probe


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.

Those who voted against the Russian resolution put forward by Bolivia "bear the full brunt of responsibility for the cessation of the operations of the JIM", Mr Nebenzia said.

Shortly after Thursday's vote in NY that effectively allowed the JIM to expire, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley accused Russian Federation of killing the investigative mechanism.

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

It would mark the tenth time that Moscow has used its veto power at the council to block action targeting its ally Syria.

The JIM has also accused the Islamic State extremist group of using mustard gas in 2015 adsnd again in September 2016 in Um Hosh in Aleppo.

The Reuters news agency cited Vasily Nebenzya, the head of Russia's mission, as saying the USA used the investigative mechanism as "a puppet-like structure to manipulate public opinion".

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The vote sparked a war of words between Russia and the United States in the council, just hours after White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump believed he could work with Russian President Vladimir Putin on issues like Syria.

The UNSC had adopted a resolution calling for the formation of the JIM and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in 2015 to determine who is behind chemical-weapons attacks in Syria. after suspected chemical attacks by the regime of Bashar Assad. But using another council rule, Bolivia then resubmitted and called for a vote on that resolution.

The attack on Khan Sheikhoun in April left more than 80 people dead and prompted the U.S. to launch missile strikes on a Syrian airbase. Syria denies using banned chemical weapons.

"What is at stake is the professional, independent, objective, scientific, nonpartisan, depoliticized JIM which we've now got, which we've had before, and which we need in the future", Rycroft said.

The draft text obtained by media agencies would renew the JIM mandate for 30 days and task UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres with submitting to the council in 20 days "proposals for the structure and methodology" of the panel.

At the heart of the dispute was the demand by Russia, Syria's most important ally, for major changes in the way the JIM operates and the USA insistence that the JIM's current mandate and independence be preserved.