A girl holding a Syrian flag participates in a protest against U.S.-led attacks on Syria, at Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, on April 15, 2018. Thousands of Iraqis rallied Sunday in downtown Baghdad to protest against U.S.-led attacks on Syria. (Xinhua/Khalil Dawood)
UNITED NATIONS, April 16 (Xinhua) -- The French ambassador to the United Nations on Monday vowed to push forward a draft Security Council resolution on a new inquiry mechanism for chemical weapons use in Syria.
Negotiations will start on Monday among the 15 members of the Security Council, Francois Delattre, the French ambassador, told reporters. "Our priority now is to open a new phase in engaging all members of the Security Council on the draft resolution."
The French-drafted resolution was circulated to council members on Saturday, shortly after the United States, France and Britain launched missile attacks on Syria over reports of chemical weapons use in the Arab country earlier this month.
"The goal of the resolution is clear: it is for the Security Council to restart collective action to deal with the chemical weapons dossier, to protect civilians and to work toward a political settlement of the Syrian crisis," said Delattre.
He said there is no "artificial timeframe" for negotiations. "We will work hard, in good faith, in good spirit, to listen to everybody in order to move ahead with the draft resolution because we believe that now is the time to move forward toward an inclusive political settlement of the crisis."
The Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the watchdog of the Chemical Weapons Convention, has sent teams into Syria for an investigation of the latest allegations of the chemical attack in Douma on April 7, which triggered the U.S.-led military strikes. But the teams were reportedly unable to access Douma.
Russian First Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dmitry Polyanskiy said Monday that his country is facilitating the FFM's access "as much as possible." He said it was Russia's initiative to invite the FFM for an investigation.
Asked why the teams were unable to carry out their work, Polyanskiy said: "Ask them (the investigators)."
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday that the United Nations has given the necessary clearance for the OPCW teams to work in Douma.
Russia has said that no chemical attack had happened in Douma.
The new draft resolution came after Russia last week vetoed a U.S.-drafted resolution for the purpose of an investigative mechanism for chemical weapons use in Syria that has the power to attribute accountability.
The OPCW's FFM may investigate chemical attacks, but it does not have the power to attribute responsibility.
There used to be such a mechanism called the Joint Investigative Mechanism between the OPCW and the United Nations, which had found that both the Syrian government and the Islamic State terrorist group used chemical weapons in Syria. Russia blocked the renewal of its mandate in November 2017.