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Russia vetoes UNSC probe on chemical weapons use in Syria

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The UN Security Council votes to extend investigations into who is responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria at the United Nations on October 24, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Russia has vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at renewing a UN probe into the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.

On Tuesday, two other UNSC members – Russia and Bolivia – also voted against the mandate, while China and Kazakhstan abstained from voting on the US-prepared document.

During this week, the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) is set to present a report on the alleged chemical attack on the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun on April 4.

During the attack, at least 86 people were killed. Anti-Damascus militants and Western countries rushed to blame President Bashar al-Assad for the Idlib incident, without providing any evidence to support their accusations.

This is while Damascus had roundly rejected any role in the tragedy. Russia and Syria say the army’s Idlib airstrike had targeted a depot where terrorists stored chemical weapons.

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Ahead of the UNSC vote, Moscow proposed hearing the mission’s findings, however, the US insisted the UNSC votes on the new mandate before the reports presentation.

Referring to the US insistence as "a directed performance," Russia's UN envoy Vasily Nebenzya noted that he was "amused at how some delegations had read their prepared statements condemning the use of other countries' veto power" ahead of the actual vote.

Nebenzya stressed that Russia regrets that those supporting the resolution have chosen "the course of confrontation and split within the Security Council.”

He added that Russia will think about the subject after the JIM report is released.

Earlier in the day, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the US' demands for the continuation of the investigation seemed “at the very least strange."

"It is necessary to act in accordance with an established practice, when a UN structure's report is first studied, and then a question on a mandate's prolongation is discussed," read a statement released by the ministry.

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