US slams Russia at the UN and warns it will strike Syria again if airstrikes against civilians continue

  • UN Ambassador Nikki Haley slammed Russia for its support of Syria’s Assad government, which she accuses of gaming the UN system to continue to kill civilians, possibly with chemical weapons.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that France would launch attacks on any Syrian facilities used to launch chemical weapons attacks.
  • Haley ended her statement by saying that if the UN couldn’t stop violence in Syria, then the US would act on its own.

The US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, slammed Russia and laid down a heavy warning for the UN Security Council on Monday, saying that if the international community can’t come together to stop the bloodshed in Syria, the US will.

Haley’s statement follows French President Emmanuel Macron’s statement on Monday that France would launch attacks on any Syrian facilities used to launch chemical weapons attacks, much as the US did in April 2017.

Haley’s statement was especially scathing towards Russia, a permanent member of the security council. Russia, Haley claimed, negotiated loopholes into a ceasefire deal struck by the Security Council in February.

Haley went on to say that Russia had used those loopholes to carry out premeditated attacks, possibly with chemical weapons, on civilian populations it knowingly mis-categorized as terrorists.

“With that vote Russia made a commitment to us, to the Syrian people, and the world to stop the killing in Syria,” Haley said of February’s UN Security Council ceasefire in Syria. “Today we know Russians did not keep their commitment. We see their actions don’t match their commitment as bombs continue dropping on the children of east Ghouta.”

Hell on earth in eastern Ghouta

One of the last pockets of Syrian rebels has been holding out in eastern Ghouta against a furious onslaught of Russian and Syrian airstrikes that have killed 1,160 people since February 18, according to a war monitor.

The roads in and out of eastern Ghouta, where the UN Security Council intended to send aid, have been peppered with airstrikes, making aid convoys’ journey treacherous.

A Reuters report on Monday stated that the pace and volume of airstrikes had grown so thick that it was no longer safe to leave shelter to bury the dead. Haley called Russia and Syria’s air and artillery strikes “a brutal bombardment of civilians in Syria.”

In the Security Council resolution, the UN called on Russia to use its influence to stop the bloodshed and allow aid and medical evacuations from east Ghouta, but Haley challenged that assumption in her speech by asking if it was Russia, once Syria’s powerful ally and saviour, that was subservient to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“Has the situation reversed and Russia is now the tool of Assad, or worse, Iran?” Haley asked.

Haley cited reports of Russians bombing medical clinics and hospitals while declaring the strikes successful missions against terrorist targets.

“Every minute we delayed meant more people were killed, but the Russian delegation stalled and drew out the talks.”

“The Russian and Syrian regimes insist they’re targeting terrorists” with airstrikes in Syria, Haley said. But according to Haley, Russia maintains that “the hospitals are full of terrorists, the schools are full of terrorists,” while outside monitors report heavy civilian deaths.

Russia insists that its targets have been exclusively terrorists, and that it has allowed evacuation. It claims that terrorist attacks have shut down UN convoys and thwarted attempts to evacuate Syrians in medical need.

But it’s unclear how rebels or terrorists, who live among Syrian civilians in east Ghouta, could retain sufficient territory to stage mortar or artillery attacks against medical evacuations or aid convoys under such heavy bombardment.

On Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British war monitor, said about 511,000 people had been killed in the Syrian war since it began in 2011, with 85% of those being killed by Assad’s government.

Haley says Russia makes a ‘mockery’ of the UN, and the US may strike again

Haley described Russia and Syria’s continued subversion of a peace process a “mockery,” and concluded her speech with a warning, and recalled the US’s April 7, 2017, naval strike on Syrian air bases thought to have participated in a sarin gas attack on its own people.

“When the international community consistently fails to act, there are times when states are compelled to take their own action,” Haley said.

“We also warn any nation that is determined to impose its will through chemical attacks and inhumane suffering, most especially the outlaw Syrian regime, the US remains prepared to act if we must,” she said.

“It’s not the path we prefer, but it’s a path we’ve demonstrated we will take, and we are prepared to take it again,” Haley concluded.