The US mission to the United Nations warned that failure to extend the mandate for the joint inquiry by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) into chemical attacks in Syria “would only give consent to such atrocities while tragically failing the Syrian people who have suffered from these despicable acts.”
“The United States hopes the Security Council will stand united in the face of chemical weapons use against civilians and extend the work of this critical group,” the US mission to the United Nations said in a statement on Wednesday.
The UN Security Council is due to vote on Thursday on rival US and Russian bids to renew the international inquiry, known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), into chemical weapons attacks in Syria, diplomats said.
During a council vote in late October, Russia vetoed a US-drafted resolution on a one-year extension of the mandate for the joint inquiry. JIM’s latest report concluded that the Assad regime was responsible for the use of the banned sarin nerve agent in attacks on rebel-held areas, including the April 4 attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun.
The mandate for the UN-OPCW joint inquiry expires at midnight Thursday. The result of the rival US and Russian bids is likely to be that neither resolution will be adopted.
British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft warned on Wednesday that if the inquiry ended: “The only victors would be people who want to use chemical weapons in Syria, which is the Assad regime plus Daesh (Islamic State).”
“Everyone in the Security Council would be shooting ourselves in the foot if we allowed that to happen,” Rycroft said.
Diplomats said that unlike the US draft resolution, there is little support among the 15-member council for the Russian draft, which would likely prompt Russia to use its veto power for the tenth time to shield the Assad regime against any possible punitive measures. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)