News World UK, France want UN sanctions for Syria gas attacks

UK, France want UN sanctions for Syria gas attacks

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An injured Syrian man being taken to a makeshift hospital in Aleppo. Photo: Getty
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Britain and France are pushing the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on Syrian government forces blamed for three gas attacks by an international inquiry.

Syrian ally Russia says it is still studying the findings.

The fourth report from the year-long inquiry by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), a text of which was seen by Reuters on Friday, blamed Syrian government forces for a third chlorine gas attack.

The results set the stage for a Security Council showdown between the five veto-wielding powers, likely pitting Russia and China against the United States, Britain and France over how those responsible should be held accountable.

The 15-member council is due to discuss the latest report by the international inquiry on Thursday.

British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said that the council, which set up the inquiry, now needs to “make sure there is genuine accountability and that means sanctions”.

French UN Ambassador Francois Delattre called for the council to adopt a resolution extending the mandate of the UN/OPCW inquiry, which expires on October 31, for up to a year and also work on a separate resolution to punish those responsible.

US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said on Saturday that the US wanted to see appropriate accountability for the attacks. She also supported an extension of the mandate of the inquiry.

“Other actors, seeking to terrorise innocents, will be watching to see how the international community responds at this time,” Power said.

Following the inquiry’s third report in August, which blamed Syrian government forces for two chlorine gas attacks and said Islamic State militants had used sulfur mustard gas, Russia said the conclusions could not be used to impose UN sanctions.

Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on Tuesday that Moscow was studying the latest report.

The inquiry said that Syrian government forces had used helicopters to drop barrel bombs, which then released chlorine gas.

The latest report confirmed a Reuters report in September that the inquiry had identified the 253 and 255 squadrons, belonging to the 63rd helicopter brigade.

The inquiry said those “with effective control in the military units … must be held accountable”.

– Michelle Nichols 

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