UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russia vetoed on Friday a Japanese-drafted U.N. Security Council resolution to extend by one month an international inquiry into who is to blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria, just a day after Moscow blocked a U.S. push to renew the investigation. A Syrian woman walks past damaged buildings in Douma, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh The mandate for the joint inquiry by the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which was unanimously created by the 15-member Security Council in 2015, ends on Friday. Syrian ally Russia has now cast 11 vetoes on possible Security Council action on Syria since the country’s civil war began in 2011. The Japanese draft received 12 votes in favor, while China abstained and Bolivia joined Russia in voting no. A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, France, Russia, Britain or China to be adopted. “Russia is wasting our time,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the council. “Russia’s actions today and in recent weeks have been designed to delay, to distract and ultimately to defeat the effort to secure accountability for chemical weapons attacks in Syria,” Haley said. Sweden’s U.N. Ambassador Olof Skoog requested closed-door council consultations after the meeting on Friday evening to “ensure we are absolutely convinced we have exhausted every avenue, every effort” before the inquiry’s mandate expires. The U.N./OPCW investigation found the Syrian government used the banned nerve agent sarin in an April 4 attack and has also used chlorine as a weapon several times. It blamed Islamic State militants for using mustard gas. Russia vetoed on Thursday and on Oct. 24 U.S.-drafted resolutions to renew the inquiry, known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM). The Security Council also voted on a Russian-drafted resolution on Thursday to renew the inquiry, but it failed after only garnering four votes in favor. During closed-door talks earlier on Friday, Russia told its council counterparts that it could not accept the Japanese draft, did not want the council to show false unity and did not want to waste everyone’s time, said council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity. While Russia agreed to the 2015 creation of the inquiry, it has consistently questioned its findings and working methods. The April 4 sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed dozens of people prompted the United States to launch missiles on a Syrian air base. Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013 under a deal brokered by Russia and the United States.
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Published Date: Nov 18, 2017 06:00 am | Updated Date: Nov 18, 2017 06:00 am