U.N. Security Council OKs Syria resolution

In a vote Friday night, the Security Council’s 15 members voted unanimously in favor of the resolution its five permanent members—Russia, the U.S., Britain, France and China—agreed on Thursday.

Its 10 other members are Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Luxembourg, Morocco, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Korea and Togo.

“For many months, I have said that the confirmed use of chemical weapons in Syria would require a firm, united response," Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement. “Tonight, the international community has delivered.”

Russia originally proposed the plan as President Obama and Congress inched toward potentially launching a military strike on Syria in early September. As Syria’s close ally, Russia intervened to prevent that use of force. A congressional vote, since then, was put on hold.

While the final resolution excludes authorization to use military force if Syria fails to comply with the guidelines, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, called it “very significant.” It’s the first time the Council has stepped in and imposed an order on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

He is now legally bound to transfer his stockpile to international control.

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Obama said Friday the resolution is a “significant victory for the international community” but expressed concerns about how the chemical weapons would be transferred out of Syria. Such an operation is dicey in the midst of an ongoing civil war, which has lasted for nearly two years, and has left more than 100,000 people dead.

President Obama, however, still has not taken the threat of a strike off the table. Navy ships are still in position in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Obama administration said it collected evidence that proves Assad was responsible for the Aug. 21 sarin gas attack in the Damascus suburbs that killed more than 1,400 people. Officials have said it’s in the U.S. national interest to hold Assad accountable. 

United Nations inspectors in their report of that specific attack did not identify whom they think was responsible. Russian officials actually suggested Syrian rebels had carried out that attack. 

"Taking chemical weapons away from a regime that just used chemical weapons ... is a very intense form of accountability," Power said Thursday. "I don't think anybody can discount the role that the threat of limited military action played in expediting and catalyzing this conversation."

By Tuesday, U.N. investigators in Syria will assess six other chemical weapon attacks that were reported since March—three of which occurred after Aug. 21.