UNSC to vote on Syria chem gas attacks probe

Russia Demands that US Respect Agreement on Antiterrorism in Syria

UNSC to vote on Syria chem gas attacks probe

Diplomats said Russian Federation was expected to also request a vote.

If the Security Council can not agree on a renewal, its mandate will expire at midnight Thursday.

This would be a serious blow to efforts to hold those responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria accountable.

At the heart of the dispute is the demand by Russia, Syria's most important ally, for changes in the way the JIM operates.

The statement comes as a joint global inquiry by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is set to expire Thursday.

The JIM's leaders said they were "confident" that Syria's government was responsible for an aerial attack on Khan Sheikhoun on April 4 using sarin that killed about 100 people and affected about 200 others who survived "acute exposure" to the nerve agent.

Russian Federation and the USA have failed to resolve a dispute over extending the mandate of a UN-backed investigative team that blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces for a chemical weapons attack in April that killed more than 80 people.

The JIM has also accused the Islamic State extremist group of using mustard gas in 2015 and again in September 2016 in Um Hosh in Aleppo.

Russian Federation said Tuesday it is talking to the United States about renewing the mandate of experts working to determine who was responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria, but the US says Moscow won't consider the American draft resolution. The conclusion supported the initial findings by the United States, France and Britain, but Syria insists it has not used chemical weapons. "Not doing so would only give consent to such atrocities while tragically failing the Syrian people who have suffered from these despicable acts".

During a council vote in late October, Russia vetoed a US-drafted resolution on a one-year extension, arguing that it did not want to decide on the fate of the panel before the Khan Sheikhun report.

"We are of the view that the JIM report, the seventh report, has been established by a flagrant disregard of [the] basic higher standards of the Chemical Convention, UN Security Council resolutions and previous decisions by the ECE executive council", Shulgin said. The US resolution was supported by 11 members of the Council. Meanwhile, the Russian-drafted resolution-which calls for a "re-evaluation" of the Khan Sheikhoun findings- is unlikely to garner the nine votes required for adoption in the council. Nebenzia said at the time that Moscow wanted to see a JIM report on attacks, which was issued two days later.

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