US will take action on Syrian chemical attacks if UN doesn't
- Author: Larry Hoffman Apr 06, 2017,
Apr 06, 2017, 8:24
In 2013, when Obama sought congressional approval to launch air strikes against Syria after an earlier gas attack, Trump criticized him, saying via Twitter that such an attack would not further US interests. "We have a new presidency". Activists and eyewitnesses said that the strike was conducted by the government of the Syrian president.
In a press conference at the White House later in the day, US President Donald Trump said the chemical attack had crossed "many, many lines" and had abruptly changed his thinking about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Israeli military intelligence believes Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces were behind the suspected chemical attack that killed at least 72 civilians, defense officials said Wednesday.
"These are very troubled times in the Middle East, and we see what happened just recently yesterday in Syria - frightful".
Before his election, Trump repeatedly urged Obama not to intervene militarily in the Syrian conflict.
During a new conference in Turkey last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled that the U.S.
"These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a outcome of the past administration's weakness and irresolution".
Tillerson is due in Moscow next week for talks that will now be clouded by the Khan Sheikhun controversy.
"When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action", US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told a Security Council meeting on Syria. He spoke from the Rose Garden shortly after the UN Security Council convened for an emergency session over the attack, called by the French.
After a 2013 attack, the US and Russian Federation brokered a deal in which Syria declared its chemical weapons arsenal and agreed to destroy it.
Envoys from Russian Federation had a different response to the attack.
Bahram Qasemi, a spokesperson for Iran's Foreign Ministry, said the country "strongly condemns" the use of chemical weapons in Syria "regardless of the perpetrators and the victims".
The resolution drafted by the U.S., Britain and France would condemn the use of chemical weapons in Syria, especially on Tuesday, "in the strongest terms" and back an investigation by the global chemical weapons watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. But China's Ambassador Liu Jieyi, in a rare diplomatic outburst, said the United Kingdom delegate should stop "abusing" the Security Council.
The draft backs a probe by the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and demands Syria provide information on its operations.
Russia's Safronkov told the council that several major provisions of the resolution are unacceptable to Moscow and France's U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters later that negotiations on the text have started "with a good spirit".
"The main task now is to have an objective inquiry into what happened", he said.
Negotiations were continuing on the draft text.
France's United Nations ambassador, François Delattre, said of the attack: "That reminds us of the day of the regime's attack on Damascus. We had a plan and we had the support and you rejected it to protect Assad".
Western experts has dismissed this claim as implausible, given the scale and nature of the casualties. The Islamic State group is still wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria, while a Pentagon review of USA strategy sits on his desk.
United States officials have not said what chemical agents were used, but Trump said it was "a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was".
In an interview with The New York Times, the President also said Moscow's role in the long-running civil war was "disappointing" - adding it was a "very sad day for Russian Federation because they're aligned".
Footage from the attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun showed people convulsing and foaming from the mouth, with medics using hoses to wash chemicals from victims' bodies - many of them children.
Idlib province is controlled mostly by an alliance of rebel and jihadist groups, including the former Al-Qaeda affiliate known as Fateh al-Sham Front.