Russian Federation blocks US Syria resolution at the UN


British ambassador Karen Pierce said the United Kingdom opposed the resolution because an OPCW investigative team is already headed to Syria and the Russian text did not include a new body to determine accountability for chemical weapons attacks.

On the diplomatic front, the United Nations Security Council failed to approve three draft resolutions on chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

The US, Britain and France opposed the measure, saying that the investigators are already headed there and that the text did not include a new way to assess blame for chemical attacks.

Moscow and Washington halted attempts by each other in the U.N. Security Council to set up worldwide investigations into chemical weapons attacks in Syria, which is in the throes of a seven-year-old civil war.

The US draft was created to fail and thus "justify" unauthorized action in Syria, Russia's United Nations envoy said. "If you made a decision to carry out an illegal military endeavour, we hope that you will come to your senses".

Sweden's ambassador, Olof Skoog, who tried unsuccessfully to find a compromise solution, told the council after the third vote that he was disappointed.

"I would once again ask you, once again beseech you to refrain from the plans that you are now developing for Syria", he said.

A retired Russian general says any clash between the US and Russia in Syria would quickly escalate beyond the region. It is now operating off Lebanon alongside US ships as part of France's military contingent fighting Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

The United States is proposing to establish the new panel for one year to work with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to identify perpetrators of chemical attacks.

The vote was 12 in favour, with Bolivia joining Russian Federation in voting "no" and China abstaining.

She accused Russian Federation, a close ally of the Syrian government, of repeatedly shielding President Bashar Assad instead of working for Security Council unity.

Russian Federation put forward its own proposal in January that has been rejected by Western powers who say it would give the Syrian government an upper hand over investigations on its territory. "Does any of that sound independent or impartial?"

As the showdown between Russian Federation and the United States got underway, Moscow's Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the United States of "planting this resolution" as a "pretext" to justify action against Syria and "taking yet one more step toward confrontation". "You simply have been looking for a pretext" and want the resolution to fail "to justify the use of force against Syria".

Russian Federation and Syria have called for the OPCW to send its experts to Douma, where toxic gas was allegedly used in an attack on Saturday that killed dozens. The alleged attack was reported on Saturday by anti-government groups, which claimed that the Syrian Army dropped a chlorine-filled munition on the area, affecting dozens of civilians.

The team also accused the Islamic State extremist group of using mustard gas twice in 2015 and 2016.

Mr Nebenzia told the council the United States resolution was trying to recreate the JIM, which he said "became a puppet in the hands of anti-Damascus forces". The first Russian-sponsored resolution did not get the minimum nine votes needed to pass, with six votes for, seven against and two abstentions.

Haley said Russian Federation was to blame for the council's failure to take action on Syria, now in its eighth year of war.

The OPCW has said the team of experts will deploy to Syria shortly.