Russian Federation and United States at odds over keeping Syria chemical experts

Jerome Frank
November 17, 2017

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 late October, the JIM issued yet another reoport, a seventh in a row, to blame the April 4, 2017 sarin attack in Khan Sheikhun on the Syrian authorities and the September 16, 2016 attack involving the use of mustard gas in Maarat Umm Khawsh on militants of the terrorist group Islamic State (outlawed in Russia). The conclusion supported the initial findings by the United States, France and Britain, but Syria insists it has not used chemical weapons.

Turkish, Russian and Iranian foreign ministers will meet in Turkey's Mediterranean city of Antalya at the weekend ahead of a trilateral meeting on Syria in Russia's Sochi city next Wednesday, Turkish foreign minister has said. The two documents had different timeframe - the Russian draft extended the mandate until May 16, 2018, while the USA version gave the mission 24 months since the adoption of the resolution. Russia's draft received four votes in favor, seven against with four abstentions.

"We would like to remind our United States colleagues and those who ... supported their unrealistic draft, we would like to remind you that you bear the burden of responsibility if the mechanism can not be salvaged", Nebenzia told the council.

In reply to Russia's request, US Permanent Representative Nikki Haley argued that a draft submitted to the Security Council first is to be the first to vote on.

"Russia is doing everything possible to prevent that from happening", he said.

Diplomats say there is little support among the 15-member council for the Russian draft, which Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia has said aims to correct "systemic errors" of the inquiry, known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM).

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"Russia has killed the Joint Investigative Mechanism ..." The vote was expected to take place later on Thursday.

US President Donald Trump had urged all Security Council members to renew the mandate to ensure that Assad's regime "does not commit mass murder with chemical weapons ever again".

Previous reports by the JIM have found that Syrian government forces were responsible for chlorine attacks on three villages in 2014 and 2015. "Russian Federation has undermined our ability to deter future attacks", Haley said, accusing Moscow of "playing games" with the council's attempt to renew the chemical weapons investigation.

He said "we have always maintained that the JIM should carry out comprehensive, objective and impartial investigations into chemical attacks in Syria".

Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013 under a deal brokered by Russian Federation and the United States.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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