Russia stalling UN chemical weapons investigation in Syria

The UN Security Council has delayed action on Ban Ki-moon’s request to establish an investigation into chemical weapons use in Syria – thanks to Russia.

By: Lauren Calin, World Israel News

UN votes on Syria chemical weapons

UN votes on Syrian chemical weapons in August. (UN)

Russia is obstructing the UN investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Although Russia’s UN ambassador claims the delay is due to technical reasons, there is increasing evidence of Russian military intervention on behalf of the Assad regime.

The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution last month calling for an investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Syria over the past two years. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent a letter to council members last Thursday suggesting a three-person panel be established to travel to Syria and determine which parties are responsible for the use of chemical weapons. The council was supposed to respond within five days, but was delayed by Russia.

Russian ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin, who holds the presidency of the Security Council for September, told reporters that his country had technical concerns regarding Ban’s proposal. In particular, he cited Ban’s call for voluntary contributions to fund the investigation, which he said could cause it to “depart from the impartiality which we hope it will display in the course of its work.” Churkin emphasized that ISIS has been working to acquire chemical weapons and may have already begun to use them.

Western powers, including the US, believe that the Assad regime is primarily responsible for the use of chemical weapons. No faction in the war in Syria except for the Assad regime possesses the aircraft necessary to have dropped barrel bombs loaded with chlorine and other toxic substances.

Russian troops in Syria

Russian troops on Syrian state TV. (@ValkryV/Twitter)

Russia has consistently supported the Assad regime in the UN, and there is new evidence that it may be providing military support as well. Syrian state TV recently showed footage of a Russian armored vehicle fighting alongside Assad’s troops. A member of the Free Syrian Army told British newspaper The Times that “the Russians have been there a long time,” adding that there has been a recent influx of reinforcements to Slunfeh, near Syria’s port city of Latakia.

As the world fails to put an end to the fighting in Syria, the humanitarian situation in the country continues to worsen. Twelve refugees drowned while trying to reach Greece this week when the boats carrying them capsized. The victims included three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, whose body washed ashore near a fashionable Turkish resort, and his five-year-old brother. UN healthcare workers believe they have identified nine cases of typhoid in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus.