UNITED NATIONS, August 28 (Itar-Tass) - The Russian and Chinese officials walked out of the U.N. Security Council meeting in New York on Wednesday, August 28, after U.S. Permanent Representative Samantha Power had called for an immediate action in Syria.
The permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - Russia, Britain, China, the U.S. and France - had been invited to the closed meeting. An hour later the Russian and Chinese diplomats left the meeting and headed to the Security Council’s main conference room where debates on Haiti was taking place.
Western countries may, until the end of the day, submit to the Security Council a draft resolution that will give the green light to an armed operation in Syria. Russia and China, which have the right of veto in the Security Council, have spoken up strongly against the use of force.
However Western countries have made it clear that they might take measures without waiting for the U.N. Security Council’s decision as they did in 1999 in Kosovo. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said this would be a gross violation of international law.
Meanwhile, Syria has asked the U.N. to investigate three chemical attacks carried out by rebels in the suburbs of Damascus on August 22, 23 and 24.
“Certain states are ready to use force even before U.N. experts make public the results of their investigation. Our country will be committed to international law,” he said. “Modern international law allows the use of force only in exceptional cases: for self-defence and if so authorised by the U.N. Security Council. Some states see priorities in a distorted way.”
Meanwhile, U.N. experts have arrived in Zamalka, an eastern suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus, where chemical weapons were allegedly used, the Sky News television channel said.
It said the inspectors were planning to visit several settlements in the area.
In the morning, the experts left their hotel in Damascus, accompanied by six vehicles of the Syrian security forces, and headed to Al Maliha controlled by rebels.
Earlier in the day, the U.N. Secretary-General’s deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said information about the U.N. inspectors’ route was kept secret for security reasons.
He said the U.N. Secretariat had received enough assurances from the warring sides for the experts to do their work in the area of an alleged chemical attack.
On the first day of their work on Monday, August 26, the U.N. inspectors took samples at the site of an alleged chemical attack and talked with survivor and witnesses.
“They visited two hospitals, they interviewed witnesses, survivors and doctors, they also collected some samples, Ban said.
On the way to the site of the alleged chemical attack in East Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, a sniper opened fire at the first vehicle in the convoy, which had clearly distinctive U.N. markings. No one was injured but the experts had to return to Damascus to replace the damaged car.
The inspection team includes staff from the OPCW, which works in cooperation with the U.N., along with colleagues from the U.N. World Health Organisation (WHO).
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the OPCW Head Ahmet Uzumcu called on all parties in Syria to extend their full cooperation to the team of United Nations inspectors probing the possible use of chemical weapons.
“The work of the UN investigation team represents an impartial and objective means to establish the facts on the allegations of use in Syria,” Ban and Uzumcu noted according to a U.N. spokesperson.
They urged that the inspectors’ work be treated as “inviolable and all cooperation must be extended to the Mission that includes avoidance of hostilities by all parties.”
The team, led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, is spending up to 14 days, with a possible extension, probing the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Government at Khan al-Asal, as well as other allegations reported by Member States.
Ban has said that any use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances is a serious violation of international law.