The Latest: UN Security Council schedules meeting on Syria

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Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia, left, and Bolivian Ambassador to the United Nations Sacha Llorenty speak to reporters in after Security Council consultations of the situation in Syria, Thursday, April 12, 2018, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

5:30 a.m.

The U.N. Security Council has scheduled another emergency meeting Friday at Russia’s request on the threat to international peace from possible air strikes on Syria by the U.S. and its allies.

Russia had requested a briefing by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. But there was no briefing on the U.N. chief’s schedule for Friday, which was released Thursday night.

It was not clear who might brief the Security Council.

China and Bolivia backed Russia’s call for a briefing by Guterres.

The open meeting is scheduled at 10 a.m. EDT Friday
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10:55 p.m.

Russia says its military police have begun operating in the Syrian city of Douma, following the pullout of anti-government fighters.

Maj.-Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko said Thursday that the MPs are deployed “to prevent provocations, guarantee security, for the support of law and order and organize aid for the local population.”

Yevtushenko heads the Russian center for reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said earlier Thursday that Douma was under the control of Syrian forces and that some 1,500 fighters of the Army of Islam group had left the city.

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10:20 p.m.

The British Cabinet has given Prime Minister Theresa May the green light to join the U.S. and France in planning military strikes in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.

After meeting for more than two hours on Thursday, the Cabinet backed May’s plan to work with the two allies “to coordinate an international response.” But it gave no indication of the timing or scale of any action.

The three nations have been working on a plan for military strikes in response to last week’s attack in Douma.

May’s office said the Cabinet “agreed on the need to take action to alleviate humanitarian distress and to deter the further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.”

Opposition lawmakers have called for Parliament to be given a vote before any military action. May isn’t legally required to do that, though it is conventional.
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10:15 p.m.

Russia’s U.N. ambassador is calling for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to hear from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on threat to international peace and security from possible military action against Syria by the U.S. and its allies.

Vassily Nebenzia told reporters after a closed council meeting Thursday on chemical weapons in Syria that he hopes an open meeting with the U.N. chief can be held “soon.”

Nebenzia says: “The immediate priority is to avert the danger of war.”

He said the second priority now is to get inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to the Damascus suburb of Douma where a suspected poisonous gas attack took place last weekend to see what happened — and “that nothing prevents them from doing it.”

The OPCW said Thursday the investigators will start work on Saturday.

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9:20 p.m.

Russia’s U.N. ambassador says the top priority now is to avert war in Syria and doesn’t rule out the possibility of a U.S.-Russian conflict.

Vassily Nebenzia said Russia is very concerned with “the dangerous escalation” of the situation and “aggressive policies” and preparations that some governments are making, a clear reference to the Trump administration and its allies.

He said: “We hope that there will be no point of no return — that the U.S. and their allies will refrain from military action against a sovereign state.”

Nebenzia told reporters after a closed emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that “the danger of escalation is higher than simply Syria, because our military are there on the invitation of the Syrian government.”

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8 p.m.

Sweden has proposed a way forward to the paralyzed U.N. Security Council that would include immediately sending a high-level disarmament mission to Syria to address outstanding issues on the use of chemical weapons “once and for all.”

A Swedish draft resolution, circulated to council members Thursday and obtained by AP, would also express the council’s determination to establish “a new impartial, independent and professional” investigative body to determine responsibility for the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

It would ask Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to submit proposals to the council within 10 days.

The draft would also give council support to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ fact-finding mission that Sweden’s U.N. Ambassador Olof Skoog said “is on its way” to Syria to determine whether chemical weapons were used in the Damascus suburb of Douma last weekend.

Skoog said he expects the proposal to be addressed at Thursday’s closed-door emergency council meeting on Syria.

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7:15 p.m.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says that a special fact-finding mission is on its way to Syria and will start investigating the suspected chemical attack there as of Saturday.

The OPCW team will be seeking to find out if and what kind of chemicals were used in the attack of last weekend, the organization based in the Netherlands said in a statement on Thursday.

Western powers are convinced a chemical attack was instigated by the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad while Syria and Russia have dispelled such reports.

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