by Will Racke
An exasperated Nikki Haley tore into her Russian counterpart during an emergency United Nations meeting on Friday, saying Moscow was covering for the Syrian regime’s continued use of chemical weapons.
Russia’s failure to police its client, Syrian President Bahsar al-Assad, led directly to a suspected poison gas attack on civilians over the weekend, top U.S. envoy to the U.N. Haley said.
“If Russia had lived up to its commitment, there would be no chemical weapons in Syria, and we would not be here today,” she said at the emergency U.N. Security Council session. “That is the Russian record of unilateralism. It is a record that has led to the trashing of all international standards against the use of chemical weapons.”
Russia asked for Security Council meeting to forestall a military response to the Assad regime’s alleged chemical attack in Douma, which killed at least 60 people and left hundreds more injured. Moscow denies Assad carried out the attack and warned a military strike would put Russian troops embedded with Syrian forces in the line of fire, risking a larger war.
The U.S., along with Britain and France, agreed some kind of military action is necessary to deter any further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime but have yet to decide how and when to respond. President Donald Trump “has not yet made a decision about possible actions in Syria,” Haley said during the U.N. meeting, according to The Associated Press.
“But should the United States and our allies decide to act in Syria, it will be in defense of a principle on which we all agree,” she went on to say. “All nations and all people will be harmed if we allow Assad to normalize the use of chemical weapons.”
Russian officials suggested opposition groups in Douma fabricated the attack in order to provoke a U.S. response against the Assad regime. Britain staged and directed the alleged chemical attack in Syria, the Russian military said on Friday but did not offer evidence of that claim.
Russian envoy to the U.N. Vassily Nebenzia made a similar assertion in the Security Council meeting, saying foreign intelligence services faked the Douma attack.
“We have weighty justification to believe … that what took place was a provocation of certain countries intelligence services,” Nebenzia said.
“I’m in awe, Vassily, that you said what you said with a straight face,” Haley responded, breaking from her prepared remarks.
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