By Betul Yuruk
NEW YORK (AA) - The U.S. on Tuesday blamed Russia for preventing a UN investigative body from investigating chemical attacks in Syria.
“When Russia killed the JIM [Joint Investigative Mechanism], they sent a dangerous message to the world – one that not only said chemical weapons use is acceptable but also that those who use chemical weapons don’t need to be identified or held accountable,” American UN envoy, Nikki Haley, said in a statement.
Russia had vetoed renewing the JIM mandate and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. JIM’s mandate expired Nov. 17, 2017.
On Monday, pro-opposition Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, said the Bashar al-Assad regime attacked a besieged Damascus residential suburb with chlorine gas.
At least 21 civilians, including children, were injured in the attack that hit Duma in the Eastern Ghouta region, according to civil defense.
“If these reports are true, this attack in Syria should weigh heavily on their conscience,” Haley said.
“The United States will never stop fighting for the innocent Syrian children, women, and men who have become victims of their own government and those who continue to prop it up,” she added.
Meanwhile, in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Moscow blamed the U.S. for “distorting” Russia’s approach to investigations on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
The JIM was created by the Security Council in August 2015 following reports of chemical attacks in Syria.
In a report late last year, JIM blamed the Syrian regime for a chemical attack in northern Syria’s Khan Sheikhoun that killed at least 100 people.
Reports of chemical attacks on civilians and opposition fighters in Syria have continued to emerge since an attack in August 2013 killed more than 1,400 victims in East Ghouta near Damascus.