UN Security Council to vote on Syria gas attack probe
The UN Security Council could vote as early as Wednesday on a draft resolution aimed at strengthening the investigation of the suspected chemical attack in Syria, diplomats said.
Russia is threatening to use its veto to block the measure, according to diplomats, who said the outcome of the resolution would be decided during talks in Moscow between US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
Britain, France and the US on Tuesday presented a new UN draft resolution demanding an investigation into the suspected chemical attack in Syria after the Security Council failed to agree on a response last week.
The new measure would require "full cooperation with the investigation" of the apparent attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun, British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said on Twitter.
The Western trio has accused President Bashar al-Assad's forces of carrying out the attack that killed at least 87 civilians, including 31 children, on 4 April.
The text calls on the Syrian government to provide flight plans, flight logs and other information on its military operations on 4 April and to hand over the names of commanders of helicopter squadrons.
I find it very hard to understand how any member of the Security Council could vote against any part of that resolution
- Matthew Rycroft, British Ambassador
Rycroft said the draft would condemn the attack and "require full cooperation by all the parties with the investigations" being run by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) – United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism.
A new revised text incorporated suggestions from Russia, China and the other 10 members of the Security Council, but maintains specific demands that Syria turn over information on its military operations on 4 April, diplomats said.
"We have drafted that resolution deliberately with consensus in mind," said Rycroft.
"I find it very hard to understand how any member of the Security Council could vote against any part of that resolution."
A vote could be held Wednesday at around 3 pm, a council diplomat said. He added that China was expected to abstain.
Russia has used its veto seven times to block action against its ally Syria.
The Security Council last week discussed three separate draft texts but failed to agree on a way forward and there was no vote on any of the measures.
OPCW has dispatched a fact-finding mission to Syria and the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) is also investigating alleged chemical weapons use to determine who is responsible.
On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a thorough investigation by the OPCW and suggested that Assad was the target of false accusations. Syria has denied using chemical weapons.
Turkey's health minister confirmed post-mortem tests on victims showed that the deadly nerve agent sarin had been used in Khan Sheikhun.