The U.S. is “determined” to respond to the Assad regime’s latest use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians, regardless of whether the UN Security Council acts or not, a top American diplomat said Monday.
“We are beyond appeals to conscience. We have reached the moment when the world must see justice done,” Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the UN, told an emergency Security Council briefing on Saturday’s attack.
“History will record this as the moment when the Security Council either discharged its duty or demonstrated its utter and complete failure to protect the people of Syria,” she said.
“Either way, the United States will respond.”
The meeting followed U.S. President Donald Trump’s statement that the decision on a U.S. response would come within the next day or two, saying: “This is about humanity and it can’t be allowed to happen,”
The meeting was called by the U.S. and eight other members of the Council to hold the Assad regime accountable and to demand an investigation and access to victims.
-‘Only a monster’
“Only a monster targets civilians and then ensures that there are no ambulances to transfer the wounded. No hospitals to save their lives. No doctors or medicine to ease their pain,” Haley continued.
“I could hold up pictures of all of this killing and suffering for the council to see, but what would be the point? The monster who was responsible for these attacks has no conscience, not even to even be shocked by pictures of dead children.”
Haley also slammed the Security Council’s failure to counter Syria normalizing the use of chemical weapons, saying: “The great evil of chemical weapons use that once unified the world in opposition is on the verge of becoming the new normal.”
Pointing the finger at Moscow for supporting Assad, Haley said: “The Russian regime, whose hands are also covered in the blood of Syrian children, cannot be shamed by pictures of its victims,”
She added: “We must not overlook Russia and Iran’s roles in enabling the Assad regime’s murderous destruction.”
– ‘Syria war threatens international security’
During the meeting, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura also said recent developments show more than ever before the dangers that the secretary-general has warned of before.
“For the first time I have reached a point in which I am expressing concern for international security, not only regional or national or Syrian security,” he said.
He argued the Syria conflict threatens international security due to conflicts of interest of regional and global powers which could cause unimaginable destructive consequences.
After facing severe criticism of Russia from fellow Security Council members, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia slammed the U.S. and other members for “fishing in the murky waters” of the Middle East, causing further chaos there.
“Everywhere you go, everything you touch, you leave behind only chaos. You try to fish in those murky waters, but the only thing you catch is mutants,” Nebenzia said, referring to the U.S.
Threatening Washington, he added that there would be “serious consequences” if military action is launched in Syria.
British Ambassador Karen Pierce also told the meeting that the U.K. initially wants to see an investigation of the attack by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Assad regime forces struck targets in Eastern Ghouta’s Douma district on Saturday midnight, using a toxic gas which left at least 78 civilians dead, according to Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets.
The Damascus suburb has been under siege for the last five years, and humanitarian access to the area, which is home to 400,000 people, has been completely cut off.
Over the past eight months, Assad regime forces have intensified their siege, making it nearly impossible for food or medicine to get into the district and leaving thousands in need of treatment.