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Last Updated : GMT 06:49:16
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Last Updated : GMT 06:49:16
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to revise Syria gas attacks probe

Britain, US oppose Russian bid

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Arab Today, arab today Britain, US oppose Russian bid

A Syrian child receives treatment near Khan Sheikhun, Syria.
United Nations - Arab Today

Britain and the United States on Friday sought to thwart a Russian bid to attach conditions to the extension of a UN-led panel tasked with identifying who is behind chemical attacks in Syria's six-year war.

Russia has circulated a draft Security Council resolution that calls for a six-month extension of the panel, known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM). Its mandate expires on November 16.

The United States has put forward a rival text seeking two more years for the JIM following the release of its latest report blaming the Syrian government for a sarin gas attack.

Moscow's text proposed that the council shelve that report on the use of the nerve agent to allow for a new investigation of the April 4 attack on the opposition-held village of Khan Sheikhun.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the panel must be allowed to continue its work to identify of perpetrators of many other chemical attacks including another case of sarin use on March 30 on the village of Ltamenah.

"Unless the Security Council takes immediate action to renew the mandate for the JIM, there will be no independent, impartial tool to identify who is responsible for these terrible attacks," Haley said.

"Now more than ever, Security Council members must put aside political games and meet our responsibility to protect the world against chemical weapons use," she said.

- Shoot the messenger -

The Security Council will discuss the fate of the panel and its findings on Khan Sheikhun on Tuesday.

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft accused Russia of "trying to shoot the messenger to cover up for the crimes of its abhorrent ally."

"The Russian draft resolution is a cynical ploy to discredit a professional, independent and impartial body."

Britain called on the council to renew the JIM's "existing mandate, which has already delivered rigorous and conclusive findings."

Russia has questioned the work of the panel because the experts did not go to Khan Sheikhun and worked from samples Moscow maintains may have been tampered with by Western intelligence.

The Russian-drafted measure "requests the JIM to retain its findings... until such time when full-scale and high-quality investigation on the site of an incident becomes possible."

The US draft resolution expresses "grave concern" over the findings on the sarin attack and said the experts should "undertake their respective investigations in a manner that they deem appropriate to fulfill their mandate."

More than 80 people, including young children, died in the Khan Sheikhun attack that provoked global outrage and prompted the United States to fire cruise missiles at a Syrian air base.

Russia in late October vetoed a US-drafted resolution that would have extended the mandate of the JIM for a year, casting its ninth veto at the Security Council to block action against its Syrian ally.

Source: AFP

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