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UN deadlock as rival resolutions on Syria attack probe fail

UN Security Council rejects Russian text to create chemical use inquiry after Moscow vetoes rival US-proposed measure.

United States

Rival draft resolutions by both the US and Russia to set up a new expert body to probe chemical weapons attacks in Syria have failed to pass at the United Nations Security Council. 

The votes on Tuesday came amid an escalating war of words between Washington and Moscow and a looming threat of Western military action following a suspected gas attack on the Syrian rebel-held town of Douma on Saturday.

Russia first vetoed a US-drafted text to create a mechanism that would have the authority to assign blame for chemical attacks in the war-torn country.

Twelve council members voted in favour, while Bolivia joined Russia in voting against, and China abstained.

In order to pass, a resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by the five permanent members: Russia, China, France, Britain or the United States.

Later, a rival Russian bid to create a new inquiry also failed after the proposed resolution only received six votes in favour. Seven members voted against and two abstained.

The Russian draft would have required investigators to report to the Security Council, which could then ascertain responsibility.

Douma attack

Syria's government and its ally Russia have denied the chemical attack took place, but rescuers and medics said that dozens of people, including many women and children, were killed.

The US has threatened a "forceful" military response to the attack, while Russia has warned of "grave repercussions" if military action against Syria is launched.

Addressing the Security Council, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said the Washington-drafted "is the bare minimum that the council can do to respond to the attack".

Her Russian counterpart, Vassily Nebenzia, hit back by saying: "Why do you need this mechanism when you have already appointed the guilty party before the investigation?"


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