Bid to get UN Security Council to condemn strikes on Syria fails

US, France and Britain fire missiles overnight targeting suspected chemical weapons sites

More chemical attacks in Syria will not be tolerated and the U.S. is prepared to strike again according to US Vice President Mike Pence, who added his voice to the chorus of warnings to Syria. Video: Reuters

 

A Russian bid for the United Nations Security Council to condemn US, British and French air strikes on Syria over a suspected chemical weapons attack failed on Saturday after only China and Bolivia joined Russia to vote in favour of a draft resolution.

The 15-member council met on Saturday, at Russia’s request – the fifth time it has met on Syria since a suspected deadly poison gas attack in the Syrian town of Douma a week ago. The US, France and Britain fired 105 missiles overnight in retaliation, targeting what they said was Syria’s chemical weapons programme.

Syrian air defenses responded to the joint strikes by the United States, France and Britain. Photograph: SANA/AP
Syrian air defenses responded to the joint strikes by the United States, France and Britain. Photograph: SANA/AP

“Why didn’t you wait for the outcome of the investigation you called for?” Russian UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said after the vote. He accused the United States, France and Britain of “demonstrating a blatant disregard for international law”.

“I hope hot heads will cool down and that will be it,” he told reporters.

‘No evidence’

International investigators from the global chemical weapons watchdog are in Syria and were due to start their inquiry on Saturday into the suspected toxic gas attack. Russia and Syria have said there was no evidence of a chemical weapons attack.

The US, France and Britain defended their military action as legal during the Security Council meeting.

“We are confident that we have crippled Syria’s chemical weapons programme. We are prepared to sustain this pressure, if the Syrian regime is foolish enough to test our will,” US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said.

A handout photo file made available by the US Navy on 14 April 2018, shows the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) firing a standard missile 3 during an exercise at sea, in the Atlantic Ocean, 15 October 2017. Photograph: EPA
A handout photo file made available by the US Navy on 14 April 2018, shows the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) firing a standard missile 3 during an exercise at sea, in the Atlantic Ocean, 15 October 2017. Photograph: EPA

‘Locked and loaded’

“If the Syrian regime uses this poison gas again, the United States is locked and loaded,” Ms Haley said.

During an address to the Security Council, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres urged all states “to show restraint in these dangerous circumstances and to avoid any acts that could escalate matters and worsen the suffering of the Syrian people”.

Eight countries voted against the Russian-drafted text on Saturday, while Peru, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia and Equatorial Guinea abstained. A resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by Russia, China, France, Britain or the US to pass.

The council failed on Tuesday to approve three draft resolutions on chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Russia vetoed a US text, while two Russian-drafted resolutions failed to get a minimum nine votes to pass.

France, the US and Britain planned to put forward a new draft resolution aimed at dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons programme, wiping out terrorism, demanding a ceasefire across Syria and finding a political solution to the conflict, French UN ambassador Francois Delattre told the council on Saturday. – Reuters