UN extends Syria gas attacks probe by 1 year
The UN Security Council has unanimously decided to extend for another year the mandate of a panel tasked with investigating chemical attacks in Syria and identifying those responsible.
Backed by Russia, the council adopted a US-drafted resolution to prolong the joint investigation by the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) until November 2017.
US Ambassador Samantha Power said work of the panel, known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), was “far from finished” and pointed to reports of alleged chlorine gas attacks in east Aleppo.
The JIM has already established during its year-long investigation that Syrian government forces carried out three chlorine gas attacks on villages in 2014 and 2015. It was the first time that an international probe pointed the fingers at President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, after years of denial from Damascus.
Despite the findings, Russia has dismissed the conclusions as unconvincing and said no sanctions should be imposed on Syria.
Russian Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov said “Russia’s skeptical position is well-known regarding the conclusions” but he added that Moscow’s backing was a recognition that chemical weapons use remained a threat in Syria and in Iraq.