Security Council "paralyzed" on new Syria probe amid US-Russia discord

Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzya talks before a vote during a Security Council meeting

Russian Federation and the United States have tangled at the United Nations over the use of chemical weapons in Syria as Washington and its allies considered whether to strike at President Bashar al-Assad's forces over a suspected poison gas attack.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said Thursday that President Donald Trump has yet to decide on whether he will pursue military action in Syria.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: In another diplomatic showdown in the U.N. Security Council, Russia's ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, called an emergency meeting that seemed aimed at one thing - to head off US military strikes, which he says would violate the U.N. charter and put Russian troops in harm's way.

Nebenzia warned the USA and its allies against taking any military action in Syria, as it might lead to grave consequences for the whole world, especially given the fact that Russian troops are deployed to the country.

The 15-member council met on Saturday, at Russia's request, the fifth time it has met on Syria since a suspected deadly poison gas attack in the Syrian town of Douma a week ago.

Twelve of the 15 members of the UN Security Council voted in favour of the United States text, while Russian Federation and Bolivia voted against it, reports Xinhua.

Russian Federation has requested an emergency meeting of the Security Council Saturday to discuss the situation after the airstrike in Syria by the United States, France and Britain, diplomats said.

Ansari said Western powers were using the alleged chemical attack as "an excuse" to undermine the Syrian regime's recent success on the ground.

USA intelligence is still assessing whether or not chemical weapons were used, a US official said, but President Donald Trump has blamed "President Putin, Russia and Iran... for backing Animal Assad" in a tweet Sunday.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a statement calling on the member states of the Security Council to come to an agreement on establishing a mechanism for holding those who use chemical weapons accountable.

"The pictures of dead children were not fake news", she said.

"The United States and its allies continue to demonstrate blatant disregard for worldwide law", he said.

The council failed on Tuesday to approve three draft resolutions on chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

Before the vote, Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia accused the USA of pushing for a vote as a pretext for possible use of force against Syria.

European airspace authorities are warning aircraft to be careful over the next days when flying close to Syria because of possible military action against President Bashar Assad's forces.

Alternatively, a Syria strike could also be justified as action to stop the use or spread of weapons of mass destruction taken because the UN Security Council has been unable to act. He claimed that "Russian military experts did not find any trace of" chemical weapons at the site, which is now under the control of the Syrian regime.

The airspace over Syria is empty and likely will be until at least midday Friday, as the USA and its allies contemplate missile strikes in the war-torn country. It is now operating off Lebanon alongside U.S. ships as part of France's military contingent fighting Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

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