UN to Vote on New Syria Sanctions; Russia Announces a Veto

The UN Security Council will vote on Tuesday on a draft resolution to impose new sanctions on Syria

The resolution draft, submitted by Western powers, aims to ban the supply of helicopters to the Syrian government and impose new restrictions on Syrian military commanders over accusations of toxic gas attacks. Russia has pledged to veto the draft resolution.

The resolution comes at the time when UN-sponsored talks on Syria are being held in Geneva. The resolution enjoys the support of United States, United Kingdom, France and other Western powers, with Russia and its Syrian ally at the opposite side.

UN Security Council is composed of 15 members, five of which are permanent, US, UK, Russia, China and France. For a resolution to be adopted, nine votes are needed in favor and no vetoes by permanent members.

However, Russia has vetoed six UNSC resolutions on Syria since the onset of the conflict in 2011, and China vetoed five.

Western powers accuse Assad’s regime of using chemical weapons, something that Damascus has denied. An international inquiry found that Syrian government forces are responsible for three chlorine gas attacks, but Russia has questioned the results of the U.N./OPCW inquiry and stated there was not enough proof for the Security Council to take any action.

The draft resolution, first circulated in the UN Security Council in December last year by Britain and France proposes a ban on the sale or supply of helicopters to Syrian government forces because the U.N./OPCW inquiry found Syrian government responsible for the use of helicopters to drop barrel bombs containing chlorine gas.

The resolution also proposes sanctions against Syrian military commanders and officials – including travel ban and asset freeze.

Russian Deputy UN Ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, said on Friday that Russia would veto the draft resolution.

The conflict in Syria saw Russia and the West pitted against each other in the UN. Moscow and Damascus claim that Western support for the ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria has enabled extremist groups to advance their interests.

Source/Image: Reuters