Calls for Investigations after Conflicting Stories Arise around Alleged Syrian Gas Attack
April 11, 2018
The Syrian Arab News Agency & Reuters & South China Morning Post
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an international and impartial investigation in the alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma city emphasizing that the seriousness of the new allegations requires "thorough investigation using impartial, independent, and professional expertise." Meanwhile, in the UN Security Council, the US and Russia vetoed competing drafts calling for an investigation into whether the alleged chemical weapons attack actually occurred and, if so, who was responsible.
UN Secretary-General Calls for Impartial Investigation
Into Alleged Chemical Use in Douma
Manar al-Freih and Hazem Sabbagh / Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA)
NEW YORK (April 10, 2018) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an international and impartial investigation in the alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma city. In a statement on Tuesday, Guterres said that the seriousness of the new allegations requires "thorough investigation using impartial, independent, and professional expertise."
On Tuesday, the Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said that it sent an official invitation to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to send a team from the fact-finding mission to visit Douma and investigate claims related to the alleged use of chemical weapons there.
Russia Vetoes US Bid to Form
New Syria Chemical Weapons Inquiry
But Loses Its Own Bid for a New Probe
Reuters & South China Morning Post
(April 11, 2018) -- Russia on Tuesday vetoed a US-drafted UN Security Council resolution that would have created a new inquiry to ascertain blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
Twelve council members voted in favour, while Bolivia joined Russia in voting no, and China abstained. A resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by Russia, China, France, Britain or the United States to pass.
Shortly afterward, Russia lost its own attempt to set up an inquiry after its own draft resolution only received six votes in favour. Seven members voted against the Russia bid and two abstained.
The Russian draft would have required investigators to report to the Security Council, which could then attribute responsibility.
"This resolution is the bare minimum that the council can do to respond to the attack," US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the council before the vote on the US bid, referring to reports of a deadly poison gas attack in Syria's Douma.
This is the 12th time Moscow has blocked action on Syria by the council during the country's seven-year-old conflict. A previous UN-mandated inquiry was shut down in November when Russia vetoed an extension of its mandate, slamming the investigation as flawed.
The United States and other Western powers are considering taking military action over Saturday's attack. US President Donald Trump on Monday warned of a quick, forceful response once responsibility for a suspected chemical weapons attack in the town of Douma on Saturday was established, thrusting Syria's conflict back to the forefront of international concern.
The key difference between the two drafts is that the US one would mandate an inquiry to lay blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria, while the Russian draft would require investigators to report to the Security Council, which would then attribute responsibility.
Russia also asked the council to vote on a second new draft resolution on Tuesday that would specifically support sending investigators from the global chemical weapons watchdog to the site of an alleged deadly attack last Saturday.
"US, UK and France can prove they want to establish truth by supporting this move," Russia's Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy posted on Twitter on Tuesday.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said on Tuesday that inspectors would travel to the Syrian rebel-held town of Douma to investigate reports of the attack that killed as many as 60 people.
The Syrian government and Russia said there was no evidence that a gas attack had taken place and the claim was bogus.
In a separate incident, a Russian warplane this weekend flew over a French warship at low altitude in the eastern Mediterranean, a deliberate breach of international regulations, a French naval source said on Tuesday.
The incident comes as tensions mount between Russia and Western nations following a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria on April 7. At least 60 people were killed in the attack, according to a Syrian relief agency.
France, the United States and their allies are considering a coordinated military response after accusing the Russia-backed Syrian government of being behind the attack. Damascus and Moscow have denied a chemical attack took place.
It was reported that the Russian plane had flown over frigate Aquitaine over the weekend and was fully-armed. The Aquitaine is equipped with 16 cruise missiles and 16 surface-to-air missiles. It is currently operating off Lebanese shores alongside US ships as part of France's contingent fighting Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.
"The flight took place several days ago," a French naval source said, adding that France had contacted Russian authorities over the matter. "Passes by military aircraft over warships are things that happen at sea. When it is deemed too close, the opposing party is notified," the source said.
OPCW to Send a Fact-finding Mission
To Douma upon Request of Syria and Russia
Emma /Mazen / SANA
THE HAGUE (April 10, 2018) -- The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced it will send a fact-finding mission to Douma town in Damascus Countryside in order to investigate allegations of alleged use of chemical weapons there. The move comes upon a request by Syria and Russia to launch an international investigation.
"Since the first reports of alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma were issued, the OPCW has been gathering information from all available sources and analyzing it," the Organization said in a statement on Tuesday.
"At the same time, OPCW's Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Uzumcu, has considered the deployment of a Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) team in Douma to establish facts surrounding these allegations," the statement reads.
The statement added, "Today, the OPCW Technical Secretariat has requested the Syrian Arab Republic to make the necessary arrangements for such a deployment.
This has coincided with a request from the Syrian Arab Republic and the Russian Federation to investigate the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma. The team is preparing to deploy to Syria shortly."
Foreign Ministry Invites OPCW to Send
Fact-finding Team to Douma to Investigate
Claims about Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons
Hazem Sabbagh / SANA
DAMASCUS (APRIL 10, 2018) -- The Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said that it sent an official invitation to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to send a team from the fact-finding mission to visit Douma and investigate claims related to the alleged use of chemical weapons there.
An official source at the Ministry said in a statement to SANA that in response to the false allegations made by some Western states against Syria regarding the alleged use of chemical weapons in the city of Douma on April 7th 2018, the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry sent an official invitation via its permanent mission at the Hague to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to send a team from the fact-finding mission to visit Douma and investigate claims related to the alleged use of chemical weapons there and identify the facts related to these allegations.
The source said that as Syria reiterates its firm condemnation of any use of chemical weapon by anyone and under any circumstances and anywhere, it affirms its commitment to cooperating with the OPCW to uncover the truth about the claims being promoted by some Western sides to justify their hostile intentions and political goals.
The source went on to say that Syria welcomes the visit of the fact-finding team, and that it intends to provide all necessary support to the mission to carry out its task, and that it hopes that the mission will conduct its work with full transparency and rely on tangible and credible evidence.
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