The US today criticised Russia for standing with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad every time he crossed the “line of human decency” and asserted that it was “fully justified” for striking the Syrian airfield from which the chemical attacks were launched. “Our military destroyed the airfield from which this week’s chemical strike took place. We were fully justified in doing so. The moral stain of the Assad regime could no longer go unanswered. His crimes against humanity could no longer be met with empty words,” US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told an urgently called UN Security Council meeting here on the situation in Syria following the US missile strike.
Haley described the US missile strike against the Syrian air field as a “very measured step” and said Washington is “prepared to do more but we hope that will not be necessary”.
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Earlier, Haley had said in a statement that Bolivia had requested an emergency Security Council meeting to discuss the events in Syria in closed session. Rejecting the demand for a closed door meeting, Haley, who is President of the Council this month, said the session would be held in the open.
“Any country that chooses to defend the atrocities of the Syrian regime will have to do so in full public view, for all the world to hear,” she said in the statement. Addressing the 15-nation Council, Haley said it was not only time to say enough to the Assad regime but also to act.
“Bashar Al Assad must never use chemical weapons again. Ever,” she said. Blaming the Syrian regime for the chemical weapons attack, Haley said the country was not the only “guilty party” but Iran and Russia also bear responsibility for the brutality against the Syrian people.
She said Iran has propped up and shielded Syria’s brutal dictator for years. “The Russian government also bears considerable responsibility. Every time Assad has crossed the line of human decency, Russia has stood beside him,” she said.
She said the reason for Russia supporting Syria “could be that Russia is knowingly allowing chemical weapons to remain in Syria. It could be that Russia has been incompetent to remove the chemical weapons or it could be that the Assad regime is playing the Russians for fools, telling them that there are no chemical weapons, all the while stockpiling them on their bases,” she said.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said following the US air strikes against the Shayrat airbase in Syria, he is “mindful of the risk of escalation” and appeals for restraint to avoid any acts that could deepen the suffering of the Syrian people.
These events underscore my belief that there is no other way to solve the conflict than through a political solution. I call on the parties to urgently renew their commitment to making progress in the Geneva talks.
He added that was following the situation in Syria “with grave concern”, stressing he was “abhorred” by the chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun and the death and injury of many innocent civilians.
“The Security Council has the primary responsibility for international peace and security. I call on the Council to unite and exercise that responsibility. For too long, international law has been ignored in the Syrian conflict, and it is our shared duty to uphold international standards of humanity. This is a prerequisite to ending the unrelenting suffering of the people of Syria,” he said.