The United States, France and Britain today launched a new bid at the United Nations to investigate chemical weapons attacks in Syria, just hours after firing military strikes against Syrian targets. 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 signalled 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 chemical 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 used sarin in the attack on Khan Sheikhun in April last year.
The measure would instruct the Organisation 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 deal reached between the United States and Russia. The Security Council held an emergency meeting earlier at the request of Russia, which failed in a bid to condemn the air strikes. Only China and Bolivia voted alongside Russia in favour of its draft resolution condemning the military action, while eight countries opposed it. Four countries abstained. Addressing the council, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the United States was confident that the military strikes had crippled Syria’s chemical weapons program. Haley warned that the United States was “locked and loaded” if any new chemical attack was carried out in Syria.