Security Council "paralyzed" on new Syria probe amid US-Russia discord


KELEMEN: Haley says it's not the US that's a threat to peace and security but rather Syria and its backer, Russia, that are, in her words, trying to normalize the use of chemical weapons.

United States president Donald Trump and Western allies are discussing possible military action to punish Assad for a suspected poison gas attack on Saturday on a rebel-held town that long had held out against government forces.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is urging the Security Council to adopt a resolution that condemns the reported chemical weapons attack in Syria over the weekend and would re-establish a U.N. investigative body to determine whether chemical weapons were used. The Russian draft would have required investigators to report to the Security Council, which could then attribute responsibility.

President Trump has threatened for days to strike Syria over an alleged gas attack in that country.

"Reports suggesting yet another deadly chemical attack may have been carried out in Syria on Saturday in the town of Douma highlight the impotence of the global response to earlier attacks alleged to have been carried out in Syria", UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement on Monday.

Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia argued that the attack was staged and said Russian specialists who went to the area took soil samples, "which showed the lack of nerve agent and chlorine-containing substances".

It was the third resolution related to chemical weapons attacks in Syria voted on by the 15-member council on Tuesday.

Moving to return to diplomacy, France said it was working with the United States and Britain on a draft resolution that would address chemical weapons use, the humanitarian crisis and the future of the peace process in Syria.

The U.S., United Kingdom and France carried out the strikes in the early morning hours on targets that U.S. officials said were linked to a Syrian government chemical weapons program.

The meeting Russian Federation is proposing is meant to address the possibility of potential US military action in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Bashar al-Assad regime.

France and Britain discussed with the Trump administration how to respond to the Douma attack.

"The intelligence provided certainly paints a different picture", Sanders said. Activists and doctors in rebel-held areas said the six-car United Nations convoy was scheduled to visit the scene of strikes in the eastern Ghouta suburbs.

"And we also know that they have nothing but scorn for worldwide law, but we have this (hold up UN Charter)", Soliz said.

Bolivia voted against the draft resolution, while China abstained.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said after the vote.

"While Russia was busy protecting the regime, Assad took notice", she said.

Despite the worldwide revulsion over chemical weapons attacks, the death toll from such incidents in Syria is only a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of combatants and civilians killed since the war began in 2011. It is now operating off Lebanon alongside U.S. ships as part of France's military contingent fighting Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

The State Department says it doesn't know what chemical was used, but says it is confident Syria was responsible.