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Russia Vows To Veto Sanctions On Syria Over Chemical Weapons

A UN chemical weapons expert holds a plastic bag containing samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus in 2013.

Russia says it is ready to veto a draft UN resolution calling for sanctions against Syria over the use of chemical weapons on civilians.

"There is an argument that the resolution itself contradicts the fundamental principle of presumption of innocence before the investigation is over," said Vladimir Safronkov, Russia's deputy UN ambassador, after a Security Council meeting.

Safronkov told reporters there is "tremendous pressure" on an inquiry into the use of chemical weapons in Syria to produce a one-sided result.

“We will veto it,” Safronkov said of the resolution if it was put to a vote. The inquiry is run jointly by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Russia is the largest international backer of the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.

Safronkov's statement later drew a rebuke from U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.

The draft resolution seeks to blacklist 11 Syrian military commanders and officials and 10 government and related entities involved in the development and production of chemical weapons.

It calls for an asset freeze and travel ban for the individuals and entities across all UN member states.

The resolution could be put up for a vote as early as next week, diplomatic sources said.

Assad's government has denied its forces have used chemical weapons.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP