UN to vote on Syria sanctions

The United Nations Security Council will likely vote on a resolution to blacklist 11 Syrian military commanders and officials over chemical weapons attacks as early as next week, a diplomat says.


The draft resolution also seeks to ban the sale or supply of helicopters to the Syrian government and to blacklist 10 government and related entities involved in the development and production of chemical weapons and the missiles to deliver them.

It calls for an asset freeze and travel ban for the individuals and entities across all UN member states.

A joint inquiry by the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) found that Syrian government forces were responsible for three chlorine gas attacks and that Islamic State militants had used mustard gas, according to reports seen by Reuters in August and October.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government has denied its forces have used chemical weapons.

Chlorine’s use as a weapon is banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria joined in 2013. If inhaled, chlorine gas turns into hydrochloric acid in the lungs and can kill by burning lungs and drowning victims in the resulting body fluids.

The UN vote could coincide with talks between representatives of Assad’s government and his opponents with UN mediator Staffan de Mistura, which started on Thursday in Geneva.

The Security Council diplomat said the draft resolution would be brought to a vote next week unless a “really compelling argument” against it emerged from the talks.

The draft resolution, a French and British initiative, would also be supported by the United States, the diplomat said on condition of anonymity, and likely vetoed by Russia, the main foreign backer of Assad’s government.

The nearly six-year-long conflict in Syria has killed at least 300,000 people and displaced millions, according to groups that monitor the war.