Russia vetoes Syria chemwar investigation —again

The Russian Federation on Nov. 17 vetoed a measure before the UN Security Council (UNSC) that would have extended the mandate of a UN panel investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria for 30 days. The UNSC had established the Joint Investigative Mechanism with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in 2015 with a two-year mandate following the use of chemical weapons in Syria in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

With the OPCW's mandate set to expire at midnight Nov. 17, the UNSC had undertaken four separate measures in the past three weeks aimed at extending the group's work, all of which faced opposition from the Russian delegation. The most recent attempt, which aimed to extend the mandate by 12 months (PDF), was vetoed by Russia late Nov. 16. Russia had previously introduced a draft resolution that it said was intended to fix fundamental flaws in the OPCW's structure, and resisted any extension that did not address those issues.

From Jurist, Nov. 17. Used with permission.

Note: Russia argued that the proposed resolution was biased and did not call for a team to actually visit Khan Sheikhoun, scene of the April chemical attack. Apart from Russia, Bolivia opposed the resolution, while China and Egypt abstained. (RT) Bolivia has also voted against resolutions on a war crimes investigation for Syria. Russia's position is ironic, as it has also vetoed resolutions calling for Damascus to cooperate in the investigation into the attack, making a visit  to Khan Sheikhoun more difficult. (CNN, April 13)

  1. New gas attack at Ghouta

    Syrian regime warplanes carried out a chlorine gas attack in the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus on Jan. 13, according to paramedics on the ground. The attack targeted residential areas in the Duma district in Eastern Ghouta, according to the group Syrian Civil Defense, know as White Helmets. It said at last six civilians affected in the attack were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment.

    Meanwhile, two people, including a child, were killed in an artillery shelling by regime forces in districts of Eastern Ghouta, according to White Helmets. Home to some 400,000, Eastern Ghouta has remained under a harsh siege by the Assad regime since late 2012. (MEM, BBC News)