New UN Bid Launched For Syria Chem­i­cal Weapons Probe

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NEW YORK (Dis­patches) - Hours af­ter strik­ing Syria, the United States, France and Britain on Satur­day launched a new bid at the United Na­tions to in­ves­ti­gate chem­i­cal weapons at­tacks in Syria.

The three al­lies cir­cu­lated a joint draft res­o­lu­tion at the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil that also calls for unim­peded de­liv­er­ies of hu­man­i­tar­ian aid, en­forc­ing a cease­fire and de­mands that Syria en­gage in UN-led peace talks, ac­cord­ing to the text ob­tained by AFP.

The move sig­naled the West’s re­solve to re­turn to diplo­macy af­ter a one-night mil­i­tary oper­a­tion that hit sites West­ern of­fi­cials said were linked to Syria’s chem­i­cal weapons pro­gram.

Among the con­tentious pro­pos­als, the draft res­o­lu­tion would es­tab­lish an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion of al­le­ga­tions of toxic gas at­tacks in Syria with the aim of iden­ti­fy­ing the per­pe­tra­tors.

Rus­sia in Novem­ber used its veto three times to bury a pre­vi­ous UN-led in­quiry which found that Syr­ian forces had dropped sarin on the town of Khan Sheikhun in April last year.

The mea­sure would in­struct the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Chem­i­cal Weapons (OPCW) to re­port within 30 days on whether Syria has fully dis­closed its chem­i­cal weapons stock­pile.

The West has ac­cused Syria of fail­ing to live up to its com­mit­ment to scrap its chem­i­cal weapons pro­gram, under a 2013 deal reached be­tween the United States and Rus­sia.

On the hu­man­i­tar­ian side, the mea­sure de­mands med­i­cal evac­u­a­tions and safe pas­sage for aid con­voys to be al­lowed to all ar­eas.

The text calls for a cease­fire res­o­lu­tion adopted in Fe­bru­ary but which never ma­te­ri­al­ized to fi­nally take hold and “de­mands” that Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad’s gov­ern­ment en­gage in peace talks “in good faith, con­struc­tively and with­out pre­con­di­tions.”

Sev­eral rounds of peace talks held under UN aus­pices in Geneva have failed to yield progress, dead­locked over de­mands that As­sad make way for a po­lit­i­cal tran­si­tion.

Ne­go­ti­a­tions on the draft res­o­lu­tion are set to be­gin to­day, but diplo­mats said it re­mained un­clear when the coun­cil would vote on the pro­posal.

West­ern diplo­mats said they were ready to al­low time for ne­go­ti­a­tions to make ev­ery ef­fort to bring Rus­sia aboard.

Rus­sia has used its veto 12 times at the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil to block ac­tion tar­get­ing its Syr­ian ally.

The new diplo­matic push came af­ter a stormy Se­cu­rity Coun­cil meet­ing called by Rus­sia, which branded the mil­i­tary ac­tion an “ag­gres­sion” against Syria and sought con­dem­na­tion.

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