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Western-Russian Confrontation on Mandate of Investigation Team in Possible Usage of Chemical Weapons in Syria

Western-Russian Confrontation on Mandate of Investigation Team in Possible Usage of Chemical Weapons in Syria

Tuesday, 7 November, 2017 - 14:15
A civil defense member breathes through an oxygen mask, after what rescue workers described as a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib, Syria. Reuters

The United Nations Security Council will formally discuss today the report of the UN panel on specifying the party responsible for chemical attacks in Syria amid a possible Western-Russian confrontation after Washington and Moscow handed out competitive projects to renew the investigation team’s mandate, which ends on November 17.

Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu is expected to review the team’s final report on the attacks on Khan Sheikhun and Umm Hawsh with chemical weapons.

Russia is trying to extend the team’s mandate in a modified and conditional way while the United States insists that the same mandate should be retained.

The team has earlier confirmed the responsibility of the Syrian government for the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhun, while ISIS was responsible for targeting Umm Hawsh using sulfur mustard.

The team, which has been entrusted with the joint investigation mechanism, has submitted its report to the UN Security Council recently, stressing that "the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of the sarin gas on Khan Sheikhun on April 4, 2017."

It added that ISIS elements used mustard gas in an attack, which targeted Umm Hawsh northern Aleppo in September 2016.

The Russian project demands to freeze the UN report, which blamed the Syrian regime for the deadly attack using sarin gas, open a new investigation into the incident and extend the mandate of the team's work for six months instead of one year, according to the US project.

The Russian project also demanded that the Commission send a team to Khan Shaykhun to conduct an integrated investigation as well as another team to Shayrat Air Base to collect samples to determine whether sarin gas had been stored there.

Two weeks ago, Russia vetoed a US-drafted resolution that would have extended by a year an investigation of who is behind chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

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