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Russia Vetoes UN Proposal To Extend Investigation Into Syria Chemical Weapons Attack

Syrian residents of Khan Sheikhun hold placards and pictures on April 7, 2017 during a protest condemning a suspected chemical weapons attack on their town earlier this week that killed at least 86 people, among them 30 children, and left hundreds suffering symptoms including convulsions, vomiting or foaming at the mouth. (Photo: Omar haj kadour/AFP/Getty Images)Syrian residents of Khan Sheikhun hold placards and pictures on April 7, 2017 during a protest condemning a suspected chemical weapons attack on their town earlier this week that killed at least 86 people, among them 30 children, and left hundreds suffering symptoms including convulsions, vomiting or foaming at the mouth. (Photo: Omar haj kadour/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia vetoed a United Nations proposal Tuesday that would have extended an investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria.

The current investigation, conducted by the United Nations in conjunction with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), is set to expire in November, and Russia exercised its vote on the U.N. Security Council to make sure that investigation doesn’t continue for another year, Reuters reports.

The Joint Investigative Mechanism’s (JIM) report will be released Oct. 26 and will assign specific blame for the chemical weapons attack on April 4 that hit Khan Sheikhoun. The attack killed dozens.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia wanted the chance to discuss the report before allowing the investigation to continue. Nebenzia asked for the vote to be postponed and said Russia would potentially be willing to extend the investigation if it could have a chance to discuss the results of the report that will be released on the 26th.

“Don’t try to create the impression that the JIM will be a dead letter unless we adopt this resolution today,” Nebenzia said before the vote took place.

“We are ready to return to extending the JIM after the publication of the report and after we discuss it after the 26 of October,” Nebenzia added.

The U.S. intelligence community believes the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was behind the April 4 attack. The OPCW determined in June, during a separate investigation, the attack was orchestrated using the nerve agent sarin. In a declassified report released about a week after the attack, the White House accused Russia, which has backed the Assad regime, of distorting the evidence and trying to promote false narratives. Following the attack, the U.S. launched a barrage of Tomahawk missiles against the Shayrat air base in Syria after President Donald Trump blasted Assad for targeting the rebel-held city.

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