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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Western allies amend UN Syria resolution on chemical use

Draft version of document obtained by AFP condemns 'reported' use of chemical weapons

A picture taken during a Syrian army-organised tour shows a view of the Eastern Ghouta town of Douma. Stringer / AFP
A picture taken during a Syrian army-organised tour shows a view of the Eastern Ghouta town of Douma. Stringer / AFP

France, the US and Britain have amended a draft resolution on Syria, seeking UN Security Council support for a political and humanitarian response to the conflict that has so far met resistance from Russia.

The original draft, which failed to get the support of Russia, expressed outrage and condemnation of the April 7 chemical attack in the town of Douma, where more than 40 people were killed.

The latest version, obtained by AFP, also condemns the attack but was amended to read "the reported use of chemical weapons".

France, the US and Britain launched retaliatory air strikes a week ago after accusing the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad of carrying out the attack.

Damascus and Moscow have denied the attack happened, claiming video of the aftermath was staged.

A team of experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has yet to gain access to the site.

The new draft resolution calls on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres "to explore ways to resume the formal negotiations" on a political settlement to the seven-year-old conflict.

It encourages Guterres through his special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, "to form a constitutional committee comprising representatives of all segments of the Syrian society".

That suggestion could be welcomed by Moscow, since the creation of such a committee was proposed in January at a summit hosted by Russia in Sochi. Damascus, however, rejected it and the idea went nowhere.

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The conflict in Syria is the main topic of an informal Security Council retreat in Sweden this weekend.

Diplomats said the latest draft will be raised there, but is not a subject of negotiations.

France said an initial meeting on the Western draft resolution was "constructive," even though Russia took only a passive role in those discussions.

Several UN Security Council members remain dubious that the changes in the latest draft resolution will lead to a breakthrough.

"We need new ideas on political side to move forward," a Swedish diplomat said Wednesday in a briefing on the UN Security Council trip to Sweden.

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