US disappointed as Russia vetoes UN resolution condemning Syria attack

US disappointed as Russia vetoes UN resolution condemning Syria attack

UNITED NATIONS: Russia has vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned the alleged use of chemical weapons in a town in northern Syria and demanded a speedy investigation.

China, which has vetoed six resolutions on Syria since the civil war began six years ago, abstained from Wednesday's vote in the 15-member Council, along with Ethiopia and Kazakhstan. Ten countries voted in favour of the text, while Bolivia joined Russia in voting no.

The vote came after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that trust between Moscow and Washington had plunged to a "low level" amid rising tensions over the war in Syria.

It is the eighth time Russia has vetoed a proposed Security Council resolution on Syria.

Wednesday's resolution was sponsored by Britain, France, and the US.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov told the council before the vote that during talks earlier Wednesday in Moscow,Russia asked for an independent international investigation to examine the April 4 attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed nearly 90 people. He said that Tillerson is considering the request.

The final draft resolution included a paragraph that the Russians objected to last week stressing Syria's requirement to provide investigators with flight plans and information about air operations on April 4 -- names of helicopter squadron commanders, and immediate access to air bases where they believe an attack may have been launched.

Western ambassadors blasted Russia for continuing to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after his alleged use of sarin on a rebel-held area of his country.

UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft accused President Assad by name at the session on Syria.

"We've met over the horror, hoping Assad has reached his depths, and yet every time, he's plunged to new lows," he said. The Syrian people "have suffered six years of ever-escalating barbarity, over six years of failed ceasefires, and over the years, Russia has held us ransom for the Assad regime."

However, the Syrian envoy to the UN Bashar Ja'afari dismissed as "lies" and "accusations" the notion that his country used "a chemical weapon we do not even possess."

Speaking before the veto vote, Safronkov, the deputy Russian ambassador, pointed at Rycroft, saying with emotion: "Look at me when I'm speaking. Don't look away. Why are you looking away?"

Safronkov charged that the UK and US support terrorist groups seeking to remove the Assad regime.

However, the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, did not let up on the criticism of Moscow.

"To my colleagues from Russia, you are isolating yourselves from the international community every time one of Assad's planes drop another barrel bomb on civilians and every time Assad tries to starve another community to death," she said.

As Tillerson, the US secretary of state, was meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia, Haley told the council, "It is long past time for Russia to stop covering for Assad. It is long past time for Russia to push seriously for peace and not continue to be part of the problem"

Ja'afari, the Syrian envoy, said the recent chemical weapons attack was really the act of terrorists and rebels. He also blamed the US for "deciding to repeat the same bloody, theatrical play that it had staged 14 years ago in this council against Iraq. A play entitled "The lie of the Iraqi WMDs." (APP)