US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Wednesday the United States is circulating a resolution that would extend by another year the work of inspectors seeking to determine who is behind chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
The US Mission to the United Nations sent reporters the brief final text of the resolution late Friday which would extend the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism, known as the JIM, for another year. Russia, a close ally of the Assad regime, has hinted it would veto the US-proposed resolution if JIM blames any chemical attacks on the Assad regime.
The United States urged the UN Security Council to approve the continuation of these investigations prior to the release of the next official JIM’s report of their findings.
“This should not be controversial, but some Council members have decided to make it so. Basing the renewal on the contents of the next report, which the Russians would like to do, politicizes the process. We can’t work like that. We need to continue to investigate attacks, collect evidence and confirm when chemical agents were used, and then look at who was responsible so we can hold them accountable,” Haley added.
The joint inquiry by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), known as JIM, has already found that Assad regime forces were responsible for three chlorine gas attacks in 2014 and 2015 and that Islamic State militants used mustard gas back in 2015.
The United States, France, and the United Kingdom have already accused the Assad regime of being behind the April 4 chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rural Idlib. The report is likely to indict of Assad regime for involvement in the attack, which killed 83 people, according to the United Nations.
The US is seeking a quick vote, Haley told reporters, so that JIM’s mandate is renewed before October 26 when it is expected to present its findings on who was responsible for the sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun.
In a report released on May 1, Human Rights Watch (HRW) presented new evidence supporting the conclusion that the Assad regime forces have used nerve agents on at least four occasions in the period between December 2016 and April 2017, including the April 4 sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun.
The watchdog group identified three different systems that regime forces are using to deliver chemical weapons: Assad regime warplanes have dropped bombs with nerve agents on at least four occasions since December 12; Assad regime helicopter-dropped chlorine-filled munitions have become more systematic; and regime or pro-regime ground forces have started using improvised ground-launched munitions filled with chlorine. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)