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US requests a UN Security Council vote today on Syria chemical weapons attack
Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, listens Monday during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council at UN headquarters in New York City. The meeting follows an apparent chemical weapons attack in Syria on Saturday. According to a Syrian medical relief group, at least 49 people were killed at several sites in Syria. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

US requests a UN Security Council vote today on Syria chemical weapons attack

UPDATE: Russia has vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution which would have launched an inquiry into who was responsible for recent chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

The United States has requested that the United Nations Security Council vote at 3 p.m. ET Tuesday on an inquiry into the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta region.

The draft resolution, which was submitted by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, calls for an investigation into who was behind the chemical attack.

What happened at the emergency meeting?

The Security Council held an emergency meeting Monday to discuss the situation in Syria. During the meeting, Haley criticized the council for its inaction.

"History will record this as the moment when the Security Council either discharged its duty or demonstrated its utter and complete failure to protect the people of Syria," she said.

On Saturday, the Syrian American Medical Society, a medical relief organization in Syria, reported that at least 49 people were killed in a chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta, which is still partly held by Syrian rebels. In addition, the White Helmets estimated that more than 500 people suffered symptoms from the attack.

As a member of the Security Council, Russia could veto the measure if it so chooses. The Russian government has been one of the few allies of the Syrian regime.

What did Trump say?

Despite announcing only a week ago that the U.S. presence in Syria would be coming to a "rapid end," President Donald Trump was quick to condemn the chemical attack and to suggest that the U.S. might act in response.

Trump told reporters Monday that he is meeting with military leaders and expects “major decisions over the next 24 to 48 hours” regarding the situation in Syria.

“We are very concerned when a thing like that can happen,” Trump said. “This is about humanity. We’re talking about humanity.”

What about the planned trip?

On Tuesday morning, Trump canceled his trip to South America to leave himself more time to “oversee the American response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world.” Vice President Mike Pence will go to the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, to represent the United States instead of Trump.

Officials from the Mexican government had previously told Reuters that they hoped to work with Trump while at this conference to renegotiate NAFTA. However, CNBC reported on Monday that NAFTA talks are still not far enough along to have announced a deal at the conference, even if Trump had gone.

If these latest reports are confirmed, this would not be the first time that the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons on Syrian civilians, nor is it the first such attack for Ghouta.

In 2013, a sarin gas attack on Ghouta was reported to have killed 1,400. After this incident, Assad publicly agreed to destroy his chemical weapons. Despite Assad's promises, Reuters reported in February that several people in Ghouta were suffering from “symptoms consistent with chlorine gas exposure.”

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