Russian veto may let Assad off the hook for chemical weapon stocks
BASHAR al-Assad could escape punishment if he fails to surrender his chemical weapons, after Russia reserved the right to veto any future action by the UN against Syria's regime.
A resolution compelling Mr Assad to surrender his chemical arsenal was expected to be passed last night by the Security Council in New York.
It threatened "to impose measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter", which authorises military action or economic sanctions against Mr Assad if he fails to comply.
At Russia's behest, the draft Security Council resolution also failed to blame the Assad regime for the killing of up to 1,400 civilians with poison gas in a suburb of Damascus on August 21.
Nick Clegg, the British deputy prime minister, told the UN General Assembly yesterday that Mr Assad had "committed a war crime".
Repeating an earlier comment from US President Barack Obama, he added: "It is an insult to human reason to suggest that the regime was not responsible."
UN officials confirmed yesterday that weapons inspectors were examining seven alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria, including three that happened after the August 21 incidents.
The inspectors, who returned to Syria this week, expect to finish collecting samples and interviewing witnesses on Monday. (©Daily Telegraph, London)