UN draft on Syria chemicals doesn't mention force
Breakthrough in UN Security Council, but efforts to end war threatened by rebels aligning with al-Qaeda
EDITOR'S NOTE: Since this story was published it has been revealed that UN chemical weapons inspectors are investigating whether three chemical attacks were carried out in Syria after the 21 August attack in Damascus. A UN statement said that, in all, seven alleged incidents of chemical weapons use were under investigation.
THE United Nations has drawn up a "binding and enforceable" resolution to eliminate Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons. But plans to end the Arab state's bloody civil war are in disarray after some of the most powerful rebel factions "rejected the leadership of the exiled opposition, throwing in their lot with an al-Qaeda affiliate", The Times reports.
The drafting of the Security Council resolution was announced last night after a day of "fast-moving diplomacy", The Guardian says.
US officials described the draft resolution as "historic and unprecedented". But winning the backing of Syria's key allies, Russia and China, required a great deal of compromise. The US had to agree that the wording of the resolution would not fall under chapter 7 of the UN charter, allowing it to be enforced by military action. In addition, the draft does not blame the Assad regime for the chemical attack that killed hundreds of people in the Damascus suburbs on 21 August.
The British ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant, said the draft resolution was shown to the ten other members of the Security Council at a meeting held last night. If passed, it would mark the first legally binding motion on the crisis in Syria.
Meanwhile, efforts to end Syria's civil war appeared to take a step backwards yesterday when 11 rebel groups signed a statement announcing their formal separation from the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) and rejecting its goal of a democratic post-Assad government. The statement also called for strict Islamic law, The Times reports.
"These forces call on all military and civilian forces to unite under a clear Islamic framework based on Sharia law, which should be the sole source of legislation," the statement said. It added that the signatories would only recognise an administration made up of "those who suffered and took part in the sacrifices", a line The Times interprets as a "dig at the exiled opposition in Istanbul". ·