US urges Security Council not to 'turn a blind eye' to Syria’s chemical weapon use

Damascus agreed to dismantle its chemical weapons programme under the supervision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in 2013

FILE - This file  image released early Sunday, April 8, 2018 by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, shows a child receiving oxygen through a respirator following an alleged poison gas attack in the rebel-held town of Douma, near Damascus, Syria. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has been thrust once again into the international limelight by a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain and allegations of a chemical bombardment on the Syrian city of Douma. It is now attempting to investigate, but its experts have not yet been able to visit the scene. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP, File)
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The US urged the 15-member UN Security Council on Tuesday not to “turn a blind eye” to Syria’s chemical weapon use, as veto-wielding Russia and China refused to attend the monthly session on the matter.

“We have heard some of our colleagues say that our monthly meetings on this issue feel repetitive,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the UN.

“And I have to say that I regret today that two permanent members have indicated they will not speak today on a matter of such gravity.

“It would mean turning a blind eye to regimes that choose to manufacture, stockpile and use chemical weapons...We must not succumb to fatigue, or worse, indifference,” she stressed.

The UAE reiterated the need to use “the time and resources” of the Security Council “wisely”, including convening meetings that are not limited to restating “our traditional positions, which are already widely known to all in the absence of any developments” said Khaula Al Shamsi, a UAE diplomat.

The UAE proposed that meetings on Syria's chemical weapons file take place quarterly.

Russia and China refused to attend the session, saying there was nothing else to say on the issue as nothing has changed.

Britain accused Syria of failing to declare and destroy all of its chemical weapons, which it said continue to pose a serious threat to regional as well as international security.

“It is our responsibility to uphold and defend the integrity of the Chemical Weapons Convention,” said Thomas Phipps, UK acting political co-ordinator.

“The non-proliferation architecture and the global consensus for these weapons must never be used.”

The Syrian government agreed to dismantle its chemical weapons programme under the supervision of the OPCW in 2013 following a chemical attack in a Damascus suburb that killed hundreds.

In 2014, the chemical weapons watchdog began investigating allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria, and in January this year the agency found the Assad government responsible for a poison gas attack that killed 43 people in Douma, in April 2018.

Syria’s representative accused the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons of “bias” and some council members of using the chemical weapons file to attack his country.

He categorically rejected the claim that chemical weapons are used by the Syrian armed forces.

Updated: August 08, 2023, 8:04 PM