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15 April 2018, 07:15 | Devin Moran
REUTERS SANA Handout Bashar Assad With Family Still in Syria- Source
The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday voted against a US -drafted resolution that would have established a new body to determine responsibility for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
As tensions escalate over possible US -led military reprisals for the suspected attack, the U.N.'s most powerful body remained paralyzed, unable to overcome its deep divisions that have been a hallmark of its debates during the seven years of conflict in Syria.
Russian Federation and the United States tangled Tuesday at the U.N. Security Council over Syria as they blocked attempts by each other to set up worldwide investigations into alleged chemical weapons attacks in the war-ravaged country.
Any resolution that needs to be passed requires 9 voters in favour and no vetoes from the five permanent members, namely, the Russian Federation, the China, France, Britain or the United States.
After vetoing the United States resolution, Russia's Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia said it would have recreated the joint investigative mechanism that lapsed in November 2017, because of a Moscow veto and a similar new body would take a long time to become active.
Condemning Moscow's veto, US Permanent Representative Nikki Haley said, "History will record that, on this day, Russian Federation chose protecting a monster over the lives of the Syrian people".
A British government statement said the two agreed the Douma attack was "utterly reprehensible" and that the global community must respond "to uphold the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons". Bolivia voted against the draft resolution, while China abstained.
Earlier the president's new national security adviser, John Bolton, urged President Donald Trump to skip his trip to South America this week because of the ongoing crisis in Syria. Only 6 countries supported the Russian resolution.
European airspace authorities are warning aircraft to be careful over the next days when flying close to Syria because of possible military action against President Bashar Assad's forces.
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.
Russian Federation proposed its own plan to send investigators to the site of the alleged attack.
A joint U.N. -OPCW investigative team accused Syria of using chlorine gas in at least two attacks in 2014 and 2015 and the nerve agent sarin in an aerial attack on Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017 that killed about 100 people and affected about 200 others.
Last year, the United States launched strikes from two Navy destroyers against a Syrian air base.
He added that the new mechanism, as proposed by the United States, would carry out an investigation with no regard to the standards set out in the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction, known as the Chemical Weapons Convention.
"They're the gold standard in collecting this type of information (about chemical weapons use), and we would certainly rely upon them, as we have in other instances, to take a look at that", she said.
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