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United Nations braces for likely Russian veto of Syria gas attacks probe

17 November 2017

A Russian-drafted United Nations Security Council resolution to renew an worldwide inquiry into who is to blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria failed to get the minimum nine votes needed to be adopted on Thursday.

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.

With two days left before Thursday's expiration of the mandate for the Joint Investigative Mechanism, known as the JIM, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told The Associated Press that "we are engaging with them".

Earlier, Russia repeatedly criticized the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) that was conducting a probe into chemical attacks in Syria under the UNSC mandate.

Russia, along with Iran, is the key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Moscow's military intervention inside Syria is widely seen as tipping the balance in the conflict.

In September 2013, Syria accepted a Russian proposal to relinquish its chemical weapons stockpile and join the Chemical Weapons Convention.

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Turkey earlier this month said Russian Federation had chose to postpone a planned Syria peace conference with all parties after Ankara objected to the potential inclusion of Kurdish forces.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said he opposed the U.S. measure because it was "geared toward entrenching the inherent flaws of the JIM" and did nothing to improve its work. After the council voted on the U.S. draft, Bolivia then requested that the body vote on the Russian text.

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. The conclusion supported the initial findings by the United States, France and Britain, but Syria insists it has not used chemical weapons.

"Let there be no doubt: we have unleashed a monster here", said Delattre.

"Not doing so would only give consent to such atrocities while tragically failing the Syrian people who have suffered from these despicable acts", it said.

British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft warned on Wednesday that if the inquiry ended: "The only victors would be people who want to use chemical weapons in Syria, which is the Assad regime plus Daesh".

United Nations braces for likely Russian veto of Syria gas attacks probe