US, France, Britain launch new UN bid for Syria chemical weapons probe

#Diplomacy

Resolution would prompt investigation of allegations of chemical attacks in Syria with aim of identifying perpetrators

United Nations Security Council meets on Syria in New York City on Saturday (AFP)
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Monday 16 April 2018 0:36 UTC
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The United States, France and Britain on Saturday launched a new bid at the United Nations to investigate chemical weapons attacks in Syria, just hours after firing military strikes against Syrian targets.

The three allies circulated a joint draft resolution at the Security Council that also calls for unimpeded deliveries of humanitarian aid, enforcing a ceasefire and demands that Syria engage in UN-led peace talks, according to the text obtained by AFP.

The move signalled the West's resolve to return to diplomacy after a one-night military operation that hit sites Western officials said were linked to Syria's chemical weapons programme.

Among the contentious proposals, the draft resolution would establish an independent investigation of allegations of chemical attacks in Syria with the aim of identifying the perpetrators.

Russia in November used its veto three times to bury a previous UN-led inquiry that found Syrian forces had used sarin in the attack on Khan Sheikhun in April last year.

The measure would instruct the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to report within 30 days on whether Syria has fully disclosed its chemical weapons stockpile. 

The West has accused Syria of failing to live up to its commitment to scrap its chemical weapons programme, under a deal reached between the United States and Russia. 

The Security Council held an emergency meeting earlier at the request of Russia, which failed in a bid to condemn the air strikes.

Only China and Bolivia voted alongside Russia in favour of its draft resolution condemning the military action, while eight countries opposed it. Four countries abstained.

Addressing told the council, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the United States was confident that the military strikes had crippled Syria's chemical weapons programme.

Still, Haley warned that the US was "locked and loaded" if any new chemical attack was carried out in Syria.