Russia vetoes UN resolution on chemical weapons probe in Syria

A Russian-drafted United Nations Security Council resolution to renew an global inquiry into who is to blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria failed to get the minimum nine votes needed to be adopted on Thursday.

The 15-nation council was due to vote on Thursday on rival US and Russian bids to renew the worldwide inquiry, diplomats said on Wednesday, a move that could trigger Russia's 10th veto to block action on Syria.

With two days left before Thursday's expiration of the mandate for the Joint Investigative Mechanism, known as the JIM, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told The Associated Press that "we are engaging with them".

The UN Security Council will vote Thursday on whether to extend an investigation to determine who is behind chemical weapons attacks in Syria, with Russian Federation expected to cast a veto.

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Russia, Syria's most important ally, has been seeking changes in the way the JIM operates.

As part of their work, UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said before the vote, the JIM investigators had looked into "the frankly ridiculous conspiracy theories that some were coming up with to explain away the use of chemical weapons in Syria by the Assad regime".

Turkish, Russian and Iranian foreign ministers will meet in Turkey's Mediterranean city of Antalya at the weekend ahead of a trilateral meeting on Syria in Russia's Sochi city next Wednesday, Turkish foreign minister has said.

The Russian-drafted resolution was unlikely to garner the nine votes required for adoption, diplomats said. The conclusion supported the initial findings by the United States, France and Britain, but Syria insists it has not used chemical weapons.

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Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said he opposed the U.S. measure because it was "geared toward entrenching the inherent flaws of the JIM" and did nothing to improve its work.

He also said that the inquiry fails "basic standards" of an investigation and ignores any information that would cast doubt on Damascus's involvement in the April incident. That averted a US military strike in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta.

Previous reports by the JIM have found that Syrian government forces were responsible for chlorine attacks on three villages in 2014 and 2015, and that the Islamic State (IS) militant group used mustard gas in 2015.

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