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UN Security Council fails to condemn strike on Iran in Syria

A satellite image shows the Iranian embassy and consulate following a suspected Israeli strike, in Damascus

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States, Britain and France on Wednesday opposed a Russian-drafted U.N. Security Council statement that would have condemned an attack on Iran's embassy compound in Syria, which Tehran has blamed on Washington's ally Israel.

Press statements by the 15-member council have to be agreed by consensus. Diplomats said the U.S., backed by France and Britain, told council colleagues that many of the facts of what happened on Monday in Damascus remained unclear and there was no consensus among council members during a meeting on Tuesday.

"This serves as a clear illustration of the double standards employed by the Western 'troika' and their actual, rather than declarative, approach to legality and order in the international context," Russia's deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said in a post on X.

The U.N. Security Council has issued statements in the past condemning attacks on diplomatic premises. The European Union on Wednesday condemned the strike - saying the inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises and personnel must be respected - and called on countries to show restraint.

The U.S. says it has not confirmed the status of the building struck in Damascus, but that it would be concerned if it was a diplomatic facility.

Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack, which destroyed a consular building adjacent to the main embassy complex, killing seven members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Iran has accused Israel of violating the founding U.N. Charter, international law, and also cited several conventions.

The 1961 Vienna Convention governing diplomatic relations and 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations define premises as buildings, parts of buildings and land - regardless of ownership - used for the purposes of the diplomatic or consular mission, including the head of the diplomatic mission.

Those conventions state that the diplomatic or consular premises "shall be inviolable." But they also say the premises should "not be used in any manner incompatible" with the diplomatic and consular functions.

Iran also cited the 1973 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents - suggesting those killed were covered by these rules.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Diane Craft)