U.N. rejects Russia bid to condemn strikes on Syria

UNITED NATIONS – Russia on Saturday, April 14, failed to win United Nations (UN) backing for a condemnation of military strikes launched by the United States, Britain, and France on Syria in retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack.

A Russian-drafted resolution won 3 votes at the Security Council, far below the 9 votes required for adoption. At the same time, 8 countries voted against and 4 abstained.

The Russian measure would have condemned the "aggression" against Syria and demanded that the 3 allies refrain from any further strike.

The vote was held after the United States warned that it was "locked and loaded," ready to launch more military strikes on Syria if President Bashar al-Assad's forces carry out a new chemical weapons attack.

Britain argued that the strikes were "both right and legal" to alleviate humanitarian suffering from repeated use of toxic gas in attacks in Syria's seven-year war.

The United States, Britain, and France launched air strikes in response to a suspected chemical attack in the rebel-held town of Douma a week ago that killed at least 40 people.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the West of "hooliganism" and demanded that it "immediately end its actions against Syria and refrain from them in the future."

"You are not only placing yourselves above international law, but you are trying to rewrite international law," Nebenzia said after the vote.

China and Bolivia supported the Russian measure, while the 3 allies along with Sweden, the Netherlands, Poland, Kuwait, and Ivory Coast opposed it. Peru, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, and Equatorial Guinea abstained.  

Most serious threat

Air strikes by the allies on Saturday hit 3 targets that Western officials said were linked to chemical weapons development in the Damascus and Homs areas.

Addressing told the council, Haley said the United States was confident that the military strikes had crippled Syria's chemical weapons program.

"We are prepared to sustain this pressure, if the Syrian regime is foolish enough to test our will," she said.

Moving to return to diplomacy, the United States, France, and Britain on Saturday meanwhile launched a new bid at the UN to investigate chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

The 3 allies circulated a joint draft resolution at the Security Council that also calls for unimpeded deliveries of humanitarian aid, enforcing a ceasefire and demands that Syria engage in UN-led peace talks, according to the text obtained by Agence France-Presse.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who delayed a trip to Saudi Arabia to deal with the Syria crisis, said he had asked special envoy Staffan de Mistura to return to New York as soon as possible to chart a way forward.

Addressing the council, Guterres urged all countries to uphold international law and warned that "Syria today represents the most serious threat to international peace and security."

The United States, Britain, and France have argued that military action was necessary after Assad's forces had used toxic gases multiple times in violation of international law.

Russia has countered that the US-led action was aimed at overthrowing Assad and keeping Moscow's influence in check. – Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com