UK wants Council approval for “necessary measures” to protect Syrian civilians.
The UN Security Council was set for a showdown over Syria on Wednesday after Britain sought authorisation for Western military action that seems certain to be vetoed by Russia and probably China.
UN chemical weapons experts investigating an apparent gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians in rebel-held suburbs of Damascus made a second trip across the front line to take samples.
Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, pleaded for them to be given the time they needed to complete their mission.
But the U.S., European and Middle East allies have already pinned the blame on President Bashar Assad and, even without full UN authorisation, U.S.-led air or missile strikes on Syria look all but certain, though the timing is far from clear.
That has set Western leaders on a collision course with Moscow, Assad’s main arms supplier, as well as with China, which also has a veto in the Security Council.
Uncertainty over how the escalation of the conflict at the heart of the oil-exporting Middle East will affect trade, and the world economy sent oil prices, and gold, to their highest levels in months while stocks fell.
Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain would propose a resolution on Wednesday at the Security Council in New York, seeking authority to take “necessary measures” to protect Syrian civilians.
Sure of a veto, it seemed part of diplomatic strategy to isolate Moscow and rally a broad coalition behind Washington.
“We’ve always said we want the UN Security Council to live up to its responsibilities on Syria. Today they have an opportunity to do that,” Cameron said in a statement.
Germany, Europe’s economic superpower, urged Russia to back the resolution. But Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had already said earlier in the day that any attack would be a folly.
UN Chief, Ban, pleaded for unity in the Security Council after more than two years of paralysis during which Syria’s civil war has split the Middle East on sectarian lines.
“Syria is the biggest challenge of war and peace in the world today,” he said, in a speech at The Hague.
“The body entrusted with maintaining international peace and security cannot be missing in action. The Council must at last find the unity to act. It must use its authority for peace.”
Ban’s special envoy for Syria, Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, said “international law is clear” in requiring Council authorisation for any military action.
But Western leaders have made clear they are ready to do without it, citing precedents for foreign intervention to protect civilians.
Rebel fighters and opposition activists said they showed UN inspectors some homes in the eastern Damascus suburb of Zamalka that had been hit by last week’s gas release.
They would also be testing and interviewing survivors, as they did on a first trip on Monday that came under sniper attack.
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