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Russia Vetoes U.S.-Led Move To Extend UN Chemical-Weapons Probe In Syria

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Russia has vetoed a U.S.-written resolution in the United Nation Security Council to extend the mandate of an investigation program to determine who is behind chemical-weapons attacks in Syria.

The U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, immediately blasted Moscow’s action on November 16, saying it indicated that Russia had no problem with the use of chemical weapons in the six-year civil war in Syria.

France also assailed Russia’s move, saying there was now a real danger of the further use of chemical weapons in Syria. Sweden called the veto "highly regrettable."

Russia has now vetoed 10 resolutions on Syria at the United Nations since the conflict started in 2011.

The five permanent members of the Security Council -- the United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom -- have veto rights.

The Security Council was voting on whether to extend the mandate for the UN-led Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM). The mandate will now expire at midnight.

U.S. President Donald Trump had urged the council to support the JIM’s continued work. In a Twitter message shortly before the vote, Trump said this would "ensure" that President Bashar al-Assad's Syrian "regime does not commit mass murder with chemical weapons ever again."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had indicated Moscow would likely veto the resolution, telling reporters before the vote that "it has no chance of adoption."

Russia has criticized the investigative team, saying it was unfair in blaming Syria -- an ally of Moscow -- for a deadly sarin gas attack on a rebel-held village in Syria in April.

A rival resolution had been put forward by Russia. It also would have extended the JIM's mandate, but it requested that the panel reevaluate its earlier findings. Russia withdrew its resolution before the vote on the U.S. resolution.

Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013 under a deal brokered by Russia and the United States.

With reporting by dpa, AFP, and AP