UN Chief Urges Member States to Avoid Escalation of Situation in Syria

Nellie Chapman
April 16, 2018

KELEMEN: Haley says it's not the USA that's a threat to peace and security but rather Syria and its backer, Russia, that are, in her words, trying to normalize the use of chemical weapons.

"I ordered the United States armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapon capabilities of Syrian dictator of Bashar al-Assad", US President Donald Trump said late Friday at the White House.

The 15-member council failed on Tuesday to approve three draft resolutions on chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

The United States and other countries then blocked a rival Russian bid to set up a separate probe that would require the Security Council to attribute responsibility.

Doctors and witnesses have said victims showed symptoms of poisoning, possibly by a nerve agent, and reported the smell of chlorine gas.

The vote reflected the deep divisions in the U.N.'s most powerful body, which has been paralyzed in dealing with the seven-year Syrian conflict and chemical weapons use in the country.

The second document is a resolution that supports the deployment of the mission from Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to Douma to conduct the investigation. Russian Federation earlier vetoed a US-drafted Security Council resolution that would have created a new inquiry to ascertain blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

"Syria is keen on cooperating with the OPCW to uncover the truth behind the allegations that some Western sides have been advertising to justify their aggressive intentions", Syria's state news agency SANA said.

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Nebenzia told the council Tuesday the U.S. resolution was trying to recreate the JIM, which he said "became a puppet in the hands of anti-Damascus forces".

The U.N. body was briefed by the Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Thomas Markram and the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura ahead of the open hearing.

Home to some 400,000 people, the district has remained the target of a crippling regime siege for the last five years that has rendered the delivery of humanitarian supplies nearly impossible.

The showdown between the United States and Russian Federation at the United Nations came as the threat of Western military action in Syria loomed large.

Nebenzia accused the United States of pushing for a vote as a pretext for possible use of force against Syria. And we have to know that we're taking every precaution necessary, should we take action.

"Not a single resident was able to confirm a chemical attack took place", he argued, saying that the US, UK and France hadn't bothered to wait for an investigation and instead had rushed to judgment "in a sign of cynical disdain a group of western countries".

Russian ambassador Nebenzia has already said, however, that it contains "some unacceptable elements", but it is unclear if they were willing to negotiate on it. "Unfortunately, chemical weapons use to injure and kill innocent Syrian civilians has become all too common".

"While Russia was busy protecting the regime, Assad took notice", Haley said. It is now operating off Lebanon alongside U.S. ships as part of France's military contingent fighting Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

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