RUSSIA’S refusal to allow an open-ended investigation into the Khan Sheikhoun chemical weapons attack on US terms has prevented a repetition of wars that tore Iraq and Libya apart, Syria’s UN ambassador has claimed.
Russia used its veto power to block a resolution seeking to extend the probe into claims that Syria’s military carried out the April 4 attack, which killed around 100 people.
US President Donald Trump ordered a huge — but ineffective — cruise missile attack on a Syrian air base following the massacre, which Russia and Syria say was a false-flag attack by extremists.
The Joint Investigation Mechanism (JIM) will now wind up when its mandate expires on Thursday.
Russia tabled an unsuccessful motion calling for the JIM to be extended without the “fundamental flaws” of relying on samples provided by the al-Qaida-affiliated Hetesh terrorists who occupy Khan Sheikhoun.
Moscow’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia blasted the probe for “focusing solely on dubious testimony from opposition and even terrorist groups, the disregard for the whole range of rules and methods provided for under the Chemical Weapons Convention.”
China, Bolivia and Kazakhstan all voted in favour of the Russian resolution.
But the US insisted that the probe would keep accepting the tainted evidence, with the backing of 10 more of the 15-member council.
US ambassador Nikki Haley rebuked Russia, saying: “The next chemical weapons attack is on your head.”
Mr Nebenzia retorted: “Today it became absolutely clear we need a robust professional mechanism that will help to prevent the threat of chemical terrorism in the region.
“And you need a puppet-like structure to manipulate public opinion, which, on the basis of false information, will time after time accuse the Syrian government of violating international norms,” he said.
Syrian ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari said Russia’s veto “saves this council from manipulation targeting the UN mechanisms.
“Russia didn’t hinder the work of the security council but rather prevented the repetition of the tragedy of Iraq and Libya and saved the integrity of the provisions of the [UN] charter,” he said.
Mr Jaafari voiced regret that some nations on the council treated the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 2011 devastation of Libya by Nato as events “that can be repeated anywhere with impunity.”