Russia has lifted its objections to a UN investigation into chemical attacks in Syria after getting assurances that the international team will coordinate with Damascus over the probe, diplomats said Thursday.
The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution August 7 approving a joint investigation by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had followed up by proposing that the mission be entrusted to three independent experts, and asked the Security Council for the go ahead to recruit them.
But Russia, which heads the council in September, delayed in responding.
According to diplomats, Moscow wanted guarantees on several points, notably that the sovereignty of the Syrian government would be respected and on the mission’s financing.
On Wednesday, Ban addressed a letter to Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin giving assurances that the United Nations would “expeditiously consult” with Damascus on an agreement governing how the mission will function and that there be “reasonable grounds” for its demands for access.
The Syrian government is supposed to cooperate fully with the investigators.
The Russians also wanted the investigators to weigh in on the use of chemical weapons in Iraq by militants of the Takfiri group, ISIL (so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Levant). But that would require a new resolution and the agreement of the Iraqi government.
Credible reports repeatedly said that ISIL had attacked Kurdish fighters with sarin gas last month in Iraq and in northern Syria.