Western push at U.N. to boost backing for Syria gas attack inquiry | Reuters

UNITED NATIONS The United States, Britain and France want the United Nations Security Council to bolster its support for international inquiries into a deadly toxic gas attack in Syria that western powers blame on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces. The three countries have proposed a revised draft resolution, diplomats said, similar to a text they circulated to the 15-member council last week that condemns the April 4 attack and pushes Syria's government to cooperate with investigators. Syria's government has denied responsibility for the attack, which prompted a U.S. strike on a Syrian air base.

Diplomats said the revised U.N. draft could be put to a vote in coming days. Russia said last week the draft resolution was unacceptable and unwarranted. Russia is one of five council veto powers, along with China, the United States, Britain and France.

"We cannot give up and we must try in good faith, the best we can, to have a text of the Security Council condemning the attack, asking for a thorough investigation," French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters. An Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding mission is already investigating the attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in a rebel-held area of northern Syria, which killed dozens of civilians.

If they determine chemical weapons were used, then a joint U.N./OPCW investigation will look at the incident to determine who is to blame. This team has already found Syrian government forces were responsible for three chlorine gas attacks in 2014 and 2015 and Islamic State militants used mustard gas.In February, Syrian ally Russia, backed by China, cast its seventh veto to protect Assad's government from council action, blocking a bid by Western powers to impose sanctions over accusations of chemical weapons attacks. China has vetoed six resolutions on Syria. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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Published Date: Apr 12, 2017 12:00 am | Updated Date: Apr 12, 2017 12:00 am

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