“Our President has not yet made a decision about possible actions in Syria," U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday.
UNITED NATIONS – President Donald Trump has yet to decide whether to launch military strikes on the Syrian government in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said Friday.
“Our president has not yet made a decision about possible actions in Syria. 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,” Haley said, referencing international conventions banning the use of chemical weapons.
Haley went on to say that U.S. intelligence believes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons at least 50 times during the seven-year Syrian civil war, and that Russia cannot credibly distance itself from Assad’s crimes.
“Russia was supposed to guarantee that Assad wouldn’t use chemical weapons. And Russia did the opposite,” she said.
Friday’s meetings marked the second consecutive day the U.N. Security Council met to discuss the possibility of military strikes on Syria, nearly a week after an alleged chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb spiraled into an international incident.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who warned that the Syrian crisis “represents the most serious threat to international peace and security,” said he backed U.S.-led efforts to send independent investigators to the scene of the alleged chemical attack, but he also warned against actions that could lead to military escalation.
“This is exactly the risk we face today — that things spiral out of control,” Guterres said. “It is our common duty to stop it.”
But despite that warning there was little sign in the debate that followed — particularly between the U.S. and Russia — that tensions over the Syrian crisis have reached a peak.
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia even blamed the United Kingdom for carrying out last week’s chemical attack, a comment that rendered Haley nearly speechless.
“I started to listen to my Russian friend and respond,” Haley said. “But instead I’m in awe, Vassily, of how you say what you say with a straight face.”