Wednesday 20th of March 2019 |
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U.S. Requests Evening U.N. Vote on Syria Chemical Inquiry




The United States has asked the U.N. Security Council to vote Tuesday on its proposal to set up an inquiry to investigate chemical weapons attacks in Syria, but the measure is likely to face a veto from Russia, diplomats said.
The U.S. push for a vote expected at 3:00 pm (1900 GMT) comes amid warnings from President Donald Trump of possible military action in response to an alleged toxic gas attack in the Syrian rebel-held town of Douma.
On Monday, the U.S. presented a draft resolution that would set up a panel tasked with identifying the perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria. Russia put forward its own proposal for such an inquiry in January.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council that Washington wanted a vote on the measure, even though Moscow said it contained "some unacceptable elements."
"We have reached the moment when the world must see justice done," Haley said Monday.
"History will record this as the moment when the Security Council either discharged its duty or demonstrated its utter and complete failure to protect the people of Syria," she added.
"Either way, the United States will respond."
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia warned that U.S. military action in Syria could trigger "grave repercussions."
"From what we hear now, I am afraid they are looking for a military option, which is very, very dangerous," Nebenzia said.
A draft resolution requires nine votes to be adopted in the 15-member council and no vetoes from the five permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.
Russia has used its veto power 11 times at the council to block action targeting its Syrian ally.
The United States is proposing to establish the new panel for one year to work with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to identify perpetrators of chemical attacks.
Russia killed off a previous U.N.-led probe in November by vetoing the renewal of its mandate.
That panel, known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), had found that the Syrian air force had dropped sarin on the village of Khan Sheikhun in April of last year.

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