“A UN Security Council meeting is to be convened, at the initiative of Russia, at 3 p.m. (19:00 GMT) and will be immediately followed by the second UNSC meeting,” a spokesman for the Russian permanent mission to the UN, Fyodor Strzhizhovsky, said. He added that the Moscow-initiated meeting would be dedicated to threats to international security.
Earlier, the UK mission to the UN said in a Twitter post that nine countries, including the UK and the US, as well as France, Poland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Kuwait, Peru and Cote d’Ivoire, have called “an emergency meeting … to discuss reports of a chemical weapons attack in Syria.” Both meetings have been scheduled for Monday.
On Saturday, anti-government groups, including the notorious ‘civil defense’ group White Helmets, accused the Syrian government of conducting a chemical attack in Eastern Ghouta’s militant-controlled town Douma. They said it affected dozens of civilians.
This news soon provoked a wave of accusations, cast by the West at the Syrian government and Russia. US President Donald Trump immediately declared “President [Vladimir] Putin, Russia and Iran … responsible” for the attack because of their support of Syrian president Bashar Assad.
The US State Department also put the blame for the incident on Russia, while admitting that it cannot independently verify the information about the incident and has to rely solely on reports provided by sources linked to the militants.The EU put the blame for the alleged attack on Damascus and called for an immediate “international response.”
The Syrian government has dismissed all accusations, calling them propaganda, designed to help terrorists on the ground. Moscow on Sunday denounced the chemical attack reports as fake news, aimed at justifying potential strikes against Syria and shielding extremists. Iran slammed the statements made by US officials, calling them “baseless accusations.”
The US administration, meanwhile, is set to discuss a potential response to the as-yet unverified chemical incident. Washington was expected to review “all different alternatives,”including a potential strike against the Syrian Army.
Meanwhile, militants from the Jaysh al-Islam group, who have been holding Douma, have reached an agreement with the Syrian Army and the Russian Reconciliation Center to leave the city. A hundred buses arrived in Douma to relocate 8,000 Jaysh al-Islam militants and around 40,000 of their family members, the center said, adding that a ceasefire is currently in place in the area and no chemical attacks have been conducted there.