White House blasts Russia for vetoing UN investigation into Syria chemical weapons
Posted November 17, 2017 6:49 p.m. EST
WASHINGTON (CNN) — The White House blasted Russia in a statement Friday for vetoing a UN Security Council resolution on an independent group investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Press secretary Sarah Sanders said in the statement, "Russia has sent a clear message."
"It does not value the lives of the victims of chemical weapons attacks or respect reasonable standards of international conduct regarding the use of such weapons," she wrote in the statement.
Russia decided Thursday to veto the resolution, which would have renewed a mandate for the Joint Investigative Mechanism. On Friday, Russia again vetoed a UN resolution to extend the mandate of the international inspections group.
It's the third veto of an extension for the chemical weapons investigators in the past month.
Russia's move drew harsh criticism from US Ambassador Nikki Haley, who said Russia had struck a "deep blow" to UN efforts to identify those using chemical weapons and deter attacks.
France, which voted in favor of renewing the mandate, also expressed alarm.
"It promises great difficulties for the future," French Ambassador François Delattre told the council.
In April, more than 80 people were killed in a sarin attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun -- an attack that prompted the United States to launch 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase.
A joint report from the United Nations and international chemical weapons inspectors last month determined the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the attack.
"The United States will not stop pressing the UN Security Council to renew the JIM's mandate so that it may continue its important work of identifying the perpetrators of heinous chemical weapons attacks, seeking justice for their victims, and sending a clear message that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated by anyone, anywhere," Sanders concluded in the statement.