A confidential report has concluded the Syrian government and Islamic State militants deployed chemical weapons in the war-torn nation in 2014 and 2015, an apparent violation of a United Nations resolution prohibiting the use of chemical attacks.
A year long joint investigation by the United Nations and the global chemical weapons watchdog group, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, found Syrian troops carried out two toxic gas attacks and IS militants used mustard gas in one attack.
The 15-member Security Council is scheduled to discuss the report on August 30, setting the stage for a possible showdown between the five veto-wielding members of China, Russia, the United States, Britain and France.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power denounced the use of chemical weapons, describing them as "a barbaric tool, repugnant to the conscience of mankind." Power called for the U.N. Security Council to take "strong and swift action" against the Syrian government and IS.
Under an agreement negotiated by the United States and Russia in 2013, Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons. At that time the Security Council supported a resolution that would impose sanctions on any person or entity involved in chemical weapons attacks under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter.
In the past, Russia, a Syrian ally, and China have protected Syria from the Security Council by blocking several resolutions.
The report will be made public after the August 30 meeting of the Security Council.