At UN, Haley warns US 'locked and loaded' if Assad uses gas again
HECTOR RETAMAL (AFP)
The United States is "locked and loaded" if Syria uses chemical weapons again, Ambassador Nikki Haley warned on Saturday, as the UN Security Council convened for an urgent session to discuss the joint military intervention in Syria.
"With yesterday’s military action our message was crystal clear," Haley told the UN's top organ. "The US will not allow the Assad regime to continue to use chemical weapons."
"I spoke to the president this morning and he said: If the Syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded," Haley said. "When our president draws a red line, our president enforces the red line."
The US, Britain and France took military action in response to an alleged chemical attack in the rebel-held town of Douma a week ago that killed at least 40 people.
A Russian-drafted resolution to condemn the strikes won three votes at the Security Council, far below the nine votes required for adoption. Eight countries voted against and four abstained.
The Russian measure would have condemned the "aggression" against Syria and demanded that the three allies refrain from any further strike.
Addressing the meeting before Haley, Russia's UN envoy demanded a vote on condemning the strikes, almost certainly to be shot down by the United States' veto.
Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the council should vote later Saturday on a Moscow-drafted resolution condemning the "aggression" and demanding that the allies refrain from any further strikes.
Haley said the United States was confident that the military strikes had crippled Syria's chemical weapons program.
"We are prepared to sustain this pressure, if the Syrian regime is foolish enough to test our will
Opening the meeting, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged countries to uphold international law as the Security Council met to discuss military strikes carried out by the United States, France and Britain on Syria.
Guterres said: "At this critical juncture, I call on all member states to act consistently with the charter of the United Nations and with international law, including the norms against chemical weapons."
Air strikes by the three allies on Saturday hit three targets that Western officials said were linked to chemical weapons development in the Damascus and Homs areas.
Britain's UN ambassador Karen Pierce defended military action against Syria, saying it was "both right and legal" to launch strikes to alleviate humanitarian suffering.
The United States, Britain and France have argued that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces had used toxic gases multiple times in violation of international law.
Guterres renewed his call for an investigation to identify the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks after Russia this week vetoed a US proposal to create such a mechanism.
(Staff with AFP)
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