Turkey, Russia and Iran to hold summit on Syria next week

Russian Federation said Tuesday it is talking to the United States about renewing the mandate of experts working to determine who was responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria, but the US says Moscow won't consider the American draft resolution.

On November 2, Russian Federation and the United States submitted to the UN Security Council mutually exclusive draft resolutions on extending the JIM's mandate.

After negotiations failed to bridge differences, the rivals each called for a council vote on their draft resolutions on Thursday, hours before the JIM's mandate expires at midnight.

"It promises great difficulties for the future", the French representative told the council. The Kremlin sharply criticized the JIM after its latest report blamed the Assad regime for a sarin gas attack on the opposition-held village of Khan Sheikhoun that killed dozens.

A joint report from the United Nations and global chemical weapons inspectors last month determined the Syrian regime was responsible for the attack.

In September 2013, Syria accepted a Russian proposal to relinquish its chemical weapons stockpile and join the Chemical Weapons Convention.

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The Russian draft, by contrast, requests the JIM to visit Khan Sheikhoun and re-evaluate its findings. "Not doing so would only give consent to such atrocities while tragically failing the Syrian people who have suffered from these despicable acts".

Washington and its allies have blamed President Bashar al-Assad's government for the Khan Sheikhun attack, but Syria has denied using chemical weapons, with strong backing from Russian Federation.

The statement comes as a joint worldwide inquiry by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is set to expire Thursday. Nebenzia said at the time that Moscow wanted to see a JIM report on attacks, which was issued two days later.

Previous reports by the JIM have found that Syrian government forces were responsible for chlorine attacks on three villages in 2014 and 2015, and that the Islamic State (IS) militant group used mustard gas in 2015.

But the US draft would support the JIM's experts pursuing investigations "in a manner they deem appropriate".

The White House in June cautioned against another possible chemical weapons strike in Syria, warning that the Assad government would "pay a heavy price" for it. Whereas the Russian draft provided for improvement of the JIM's work, the United States insisted to leave things as they were. And it would ask Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to recruit experienced staff from as wide a geographical basis "as practicable".

  • Sonia Alvarado