World powers step up pressure on Syria, Russia over chemical attacks

World powers step up pressure on Syria, Russia over chemical attacks

Russian Federation is an ally of the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad.

Earlier this week a chemical attack was again carried out against innocent civilians in Syria by President Bashir Assad's regime. Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war there have been several reports of chemical weapons attack, with civilian casualties varying according to different sources of information.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, however, doubted Russia's intentions, noting that Russian Federation used its veto three times in 2017 to stop the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN for chemical weapons use in Syria.

"We want to rise above the differences and propose [the] creation of a new global investigative body", tasked with establishing facts and seeking those responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria "based on the impeccable and irrefutable data obtained in a transparent and credible way", Russia's permanent representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzia told the Security Council on Tuesday.

"There is simply no denying that Russian Federation, by shielding its Syrian ally, has breached its commitments to the USA as a framework guarantor" of the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles, Tillerson added.

France, which is a permanent UN Security Council member, hosted a foreign ministerial meeting on the issue in Paris on Tuesday. The 24 nations that participated in the gathering agreed to work more closely on the issue and impose sanctions on alleged perpetrators. "Russia is complicit in the Assad regime's atrocities".

"The recent attacks in East Ghouta raise serious concerns that Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime might be continuing its use of chemical weapons against its own people", U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in Paris.

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On Wednesday, a website was launched for the initiative, the International Partnership Against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons.

"The United States and the global community are not going to be fooled".

In late August a United States intelligence report says with "high confidence" that Syria's government carried out the attacks.

Warplanes strike the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib in April 2017 with a chemical agent. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 13 people had suffered suffocation in the incident.

The comments came a day after an "apparent chlorine gas attack" in east Ghouta, an enclave of rebel support in the Damascus suburbs, which left at least 20 civilians - a lot of them children - struggling to breathe.

A similar attack had targeted the outskirts of the same city, Douma, in the opposition-held Eastern Ghouta region on January 13, according to the monitor, which says seven people suffered breathing problems.

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