US, Russia clash over blame for Syria chemical attacks

Author: AP, AFPSun, 2018-03-04 03:00ID: 1520116522957521900NEW YORK: The US and Russia are again clashing over an expert body to determine responsibility for chemical attacks in Syria, with Washington circulating a new draft UN resolution and Moscow moving toward a vote on its own proposal.
The US and Russia have been lashing out at each other for months over the issue of accountability for chemical attacks in Syria, a close ally of Moscow.
Russia vetoed a Western-backed resolution in November that would have extended the mandate of the expert body charged with determining responsibility for chemical attacks.
Moscow circulated a new proposal in January, but Western powers say it gives Syria’s regime control over investigations.
The US circulated a proposal, obtained by AP, to establish a new body that would investigate in an “impartial, independent” manner.
The Syrian regime has denied using chemical weapons and Russia has questioned UN findings that it carried out sarin and chlorine attacks.
It was unclear when the US proposal, or a separate Russian draft resolution, on the Syrian chemical inquiry would come to a vote.
US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed in a phone call that the Syrian regime must be held accountable.
“This applies both to the Assad regime’s deployment of chemical weapons and for its attacks against civilians and the blockade of humanitarian support,” a German chancellery statement said.
Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, vowed there would be “no impunity” in the event of further chemical weapons use in Syria.
The UN Human Rights Council on Friday postponed voting on a British resolution condemning the crisis in Eastern Ghouta, after members-states failed to agree on a final text.
The British draft introduced at an emergency council session calls for immediate humanitarian access to the area, where a controversial truce unilaterally declared by Damascus-ally Russia has been unable to produce a breakthrough.
The draft also instructs war crimes investigators from the UN-backed Commission of Inquiry for Syria to conduct an investigation into alleged atrocities in the area, battered by a Russia-backed regime assault that began Feb. 18.
Main category: Middle-EastTags: United States of AmericaRussiaNew YorkSyriarelated_nodes: US takes aim at Afghan army’s Russian riflesRussian ‘mastermind’ in cocaine plot arrested in GermanyHouthi militia using Yemeni prisoners as human shields, rights group claims

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