US & Russia to present rival resolutions on Douma probe at UNSC – reports
The UN Security Council is expected to vote on the US-sponsored resolution at 3pm local time in New York (19:00 GMT) on Tuesday, according to media reports, citing diplomatic sources. “The vote has been requested [by the US],” an unnamed diplomat told RIA Novosti.
Russia, for its part, has reportedly prepared two draft resolutions. While one of them challenges the US-sponsored document and focuses on the proposed inquiry, the second would specifically support the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) sending investigators to the site of the alleged incident. The alleged attack was reported on Saturday by pro-militant sources, who claimed that it affected dozens of civilians in the town of Douma.
Shortly before the vote, the OPCW announced its decision to dispatch a fact-finding mission to Syria. It remained unclear how this move would affect the upcoming UNSC meeting.
“Today, the OPCW Technical Secretariat has requested the Syrian Arab Republic to make the necessary arrangements for such a deployment,” the OPCW said in a statement, adding that its move “coincided with a request from the Syrian Arab Republic and the Russian Federation to investigate the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Russia’s mission to the OPCW urged the organization to send in investigators as soon as possible, citing “the rapid escalation of the situation” around Syria. Any delays would only play into the hands of those who desire to use the reported incident as a pretext to launch an attack on Syria, it said.
While the US will supposedly be seeking an inquiry into the alleged incident, Washington has already pinned the blame for it on Damascus and its allies. Following the first reports that came from the controversial White Helmets and other anti-government groups, US President Donald Trump called his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad an “animal,” adding that there would be a “big price to pay” for the purported use of chemical weapons. On Monday, the US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, appeared to speak of the alleged chemical attack as a proven fact, blaming Russia and the “monster” Assad for it.
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