Russia blocks UK call for strike on Syria

Britain moves to invoke Chapter 7 of UN Charter in a bid to authorise use of force against Assad regime.

Written by Associated Press | United Nations | Published: August 29, 2013 12:53 am

The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) — Britain,China,France,Russia and the United States — failed to reach an agreement Wednesday on a British-proposed resolution that would authorise the use of military force against Syria.

The draft resolution — if it were to be put to a vote — would almost certainly be vetoed by Russia and China,which have blocked past attempts to sanction President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Britain put forth the proposal Wednesday as momentum seemed to be building among Western allies for a strike against Syria. US officials,including Vice President Joe Biden,have charged that Assad’s government used deadly chemical weapons near Damascus last week.

The US has not presented concrete proof,and UN inspectors currently in Syria to investigate alleged chemical attacks have not endorsed the allegations.

After the ambassadors met for a couple of hours at UN headquarters,the draft resolution was being sent back to their governments for consultations,according to a Western diplomat,who spoke on condition of anonymity. The diplomat said Russia reiterated its objections to international intervention in the Syrian crisis.

US Ambassador Samantha Power and British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant left the meeting without commenting to reporters.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said in London that the British draft resolution would authorise “all necessary measures under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter to protect civilians from chemical weapons.’’ Chapter 7 allows the use of international armed force to back up UN decisions.

Speaking Wednesday from The Hague,Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said no action should be taken until the UN chemical weapons inspectors finish their work. “Let them conclude … their work for four days and then we will have to analyse scientifically’’ their findings and send a report to the Security Council,he said. The UN said the analysis would be done “as quickly as possible.’’

Ban also pleaded for more time to give diplomacy another chance to end the more than two-year conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people. But the secretary-general added that the UNSC must not go “missing in action.”

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