UN extends Syria chemical weapons inspection mandate

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council voted Monday to extend the mandate of inspectors charged with determining who is behind confirmed chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

The resolution extends the inspectors’ work until mid-November with the possibility of a further extension before the mandate’s expiration.

Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said that the extension was shorter than what western powers wanted but that it would at least allow inspectors to continue their work.

“We will then need to come back to these very important issues of accountability to make sure that everyone involved in the heinous use of chemical weapons in Syria is denied impunity and will receive justice,” Rycroft said.

Investigators have already determined that the Syrian government was behind at least three attacks involving chlorine gas and the Islamic State was responsible for at least one involving mustard gas.

The United States, Britain and France want the Security Council to impose sanctions on the Syrian government for using chemical weapons. But Russia, Syria’s closest ally, has repeatedly questioned investigators’ conclusions linking chemical weapons use to the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Russia has said it would also like to expand the inspectors’ mandate to cover the use of chemical weapons by “terrorists” beyond Syrian territory.