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Will UN vote hold Syria accountable? New gridlock same as the old gridlock. (+video)

Security Council member France expresses dismay at the Russian charge that the UN weapons inspectors’ report on the use of sarin gas in Syria was biased.

By Staff writer / September 18, 2013

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant and US Ambassador Samantha Power confer in the United Nations Security Council, Sept. 17. Moscow insisted on Tuesday that a new Security Council resolution on Syria not allow the use of force, while the Arab country's main opposition group demanded a swift international response following the U.N. report that confirmed chemical weapons were used outside Damascus last month.

Richard Drew/AP

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Washington

Prospects for quick approval of a UN Security Council resolution to back up a US-Russia deal on Syria’s chemical weapons are dimming over demands that Syria be held accountable – including with a possible use of force – if it fails to abide by the agreement.

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Syria's deputy foreign minister, Faisal Muqdad, told AFP on Wednesday that Damascus was confident the UN would not adopt a Chapter VII resolution saying, "I think this is a big lie used by the Western powers; we believe it will never be used."

Mirroring the split in the council that has prevented any UN action on Syria over the course of its 2-1/2-year-old civil war, Western powers and Russia are at loggerheads over what a resolution should say about the consequences for noncompliance with the plan to rid Syria of one of the world’s largest stockpiles of chemical weapons.

The speed bumps on the road to Security Council action only seemed to get higher Wednesday as Russia slammed a UN weapons inspectors’ report on Syria issued Monday, saying it was biased against the Syrian government – Moscow’s ally – and tainted by politics.

Russia also says it will present evidence to the Security Council to back up its claim that it was Syrian rebels, and not the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who launched a barrage of chemical weapons onto the Damascus suburbs Aug. 21. The report by the UN weapons inspection team does not place blame for the August attack, but Western powers – including the US, France, and the United Kingdom – say the evidence in the report unquestionably points to the Assad regime.

The Security Council’s five permanent and veto-wielding members – the US, Russia, China, France, and the UK – were expected to meet Wednesday on a proposed resolution. But UN officials and diplomats close to council workings said after an initial meeting Tuesday that imminent agreement on “consequences” language appeared unlikely.

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