France and UK pursue helicopter ban, sanctions on Syria

France and the United Kingdom are pushing for a UN Security Council resolution sanctioning Syrian officials and entities for chemical weapons attacks in Syria’s civil war. 

France and the United Kingdom will attempt to follow through on the findings of a joint inquiry of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) this past August that found Syrian army units responsible for several chemical weapons attacks during the civil war. The inquiry also found the Islamic State to be responsible for a mustard gas attack.

“It is out of the question to let these crimes go unpunished,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told Reuters on Wednesday.  “I can’t imagine the argument a country could use to close its eyes to the use of chemical weapons.”

The proposed resolution backed by France and the UK would not only impose sanctions against senior Syrian officials responsible for the chemical weapons attacks, but also on Syrian entities involved in the production of chemical weapons.

The resolution would also prohibit the sale of helicopters to Syria. The joint inquiry found that Syrian army helicopters dropped chlorine barrel bombs on several villages, including Qmenas, Talmenes and Sarmin.

The UN/OPCW inquiry said that they discovered remnants of a device in Sarmin that was “consistent with the construction of a barrel bomb.”

British Ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft said on Wednesday that there must be significant consequences and sanctions against those responsible for the chemical weapons attacks.  “We’ll be pursuing that with our council colleagues and circulating a draft shortly,” he told reporters.

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The resolution however, is not expected to pass due to Russia’s objections to the findings in the UN/OPCW joint inquiry as well as to imposing sanctions against Syria.  Russia, along with the other four permanent members on the UN Security Council (US, UK, France and China), has veto power over any proposed resolution in the Security Council.

In a rare instance, the Security Council succeeded in passing a resolution on the Syrian civil war earlier this week, which mandates for all parties “to provide (UN) monitors with safe, immediate and unimpeded access” in Aleppo so as to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid and medical care to civilians in the city.  

By: Jonathan Benedek, World Israel News