A Syrian man collects samples from the site of a suspected gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, Syria, on April 5. The attack killed at least 100 civilians, including several children. File Photo by Omar Haj Kadour/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Russia used its U.N. Security Council veto power on Thursday to stop a U.S.-drafted resolution that would have extended an investigation into allegations that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on his own people earlier this year.
Russia's veto came hours after President Donald Trump encouraged the U.N. Security Council to pass the resolution.
"Need all on the U.N. Security Council to vote to renew the Joint Investigative Mechanism for Syria to ensure that Assad Regime does not commit mass murder with chemical weapons ever again," Trump tweeted.
The vote would have prolonged a U.N. investigative panel that released a report Oct. 27 blaming Assad's forces for a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians on April 4 -- a strike that drew a military response from Trump.
Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, said the U.N. panel has "extremely systemic flaws" and denounced the effort to prolong it.
"There was nothing balanced in the U.S. resolution," Nebenzia said, adding that Russia "condemns the use of chemical weapons by anyone" but that the panel's reporting thus far was "a joke -- complete nonsense."
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley blasted Russia for the veto.
"The message to anyone listening is clear: In effect, Russia accepts the use of chemical weapons in Syria," she said, later telling Russia officials, "The next chemical weapons attack is on your heads."
The resolution would have passed with 11 votes. Bolivia voted against and China and Egypt both abstained.
Russia's veto marked the 10th time it has used its veto power to defend Assad since a civil war broke out in Syria six years ago.