U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned the U.N. Security Council on Monday that the U.S. is “prepared” to launch more airstrikes if the international community “fails to act” or demand an immediate 30-day ceasefire in the Syrian capital of Damascus and the Ghouta region.
“It is not the path we prefer, but it is a path we have demonstrated we will take, and we are prepared to take again,” Haley told the council. “When the international community consistently fails to act, there are times when states are compelled to take their own action.”
She was referring to a massive missile attack President Donald Trump ordered nearly a year ago, in April 2017, on a Syrian base thought to be the source of a series of chemical weapons attacks on civilians.
“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 U.S. remains prepared to act if we must,” Haley added, singling out Russia for aiding Assad’s regime.
Haley spoke to the council shortly after French President Emmanuel Macron announced France is prepared to launch its own missile strikes targeting bases used to deploy chemical attacks in Syria.
Haley said Russia’s behavior was a “mockery” of everything the U.N. is striving to achieve to reach a peaceful resolution of the Syrian civil war. She also accused Russia of planting loopholes in the council’s February cease-fire deal that allowed for a continued and “brutal bombardment of civilians in Syria.”
“Has the situation reversed and Russia is now the tool of Assad, or worse, Iran?” Haley said. “Every minute we delayed meant more people were killed, but the Russian delegation stalled and drew out the talks.”
“With that vote Russia made a commitment to us, to the Syrian people, and the world to stop the killing in Syria,” Haley continued. “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.”
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres noted during the council meeting that “there has been no cessation of hostilities” in Syria, as “violence continues in eastern Ghouta and beyond — including in Afrin, parts of Idlib and into Damascus and its suburbs.”
“No sieges have been lifted,” Guterres said. “To our knowledge, not one critically sick or wounded person has yet been evacuated.”
Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters on Sunday that Trump “has full political maneuver room to take the decision that he believes appropriate” regarding further Syrian airstrikes.
Mattis also blasted Russia, saying, “Either Russia is incompetent or in cahoots with Assad. I just want to reiterate it would be very unwise for [Russia] to use weaponized gas. And I think President Trump made that very clear early in his administration.”