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US blasts Russia and others at the UN for failure of Syria cease-fire

Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, voting at the Security Council September 11, 2017. (Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/TNS)

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, blamed Russia and its allies Monday for violating a humanitarian cease-fire in Syria, and excoriated the U.N. Security Council for failing to guarantee the truce.

Haley also warned that the Trump administration “remains prepared to act,” as it did last April when U.S. missiles were fired at a Syrian government airbase that was used to drop nerve gas on civilians.

“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 Security Council, which met in special session. “When the international community consistently fails to act, there are times when states are compelled to take their own action.”

On Feb. 24, the 15-member Security Council, including Russia, voted unanimously to demand a monthlong cease-fire across Syria to allow for humanitarian deliveries and medical evacuation. The resolution was largely ignored in Syria, where fighting erupted in several areas.

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military, which is backed by Moscow, continued to bombard the besieged rebel-held Ghouta enclave, killing hundreds of people. The government says it is targeting terrorists in Ghouta who had shelled Damascus, the capital.

Trump administration officials have said they were investigating reports that Assad’s forces have used chlorine gas as a chemical agent in the government offensive.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres briefed the council Monday on the failure of the latest cease-fire effort.

“Despite some limited convoy deliveries, the provision of humanitarian aid and services has not been safe, unimpeded or sustained,” Guterres said. “No sieges have been lifted. … To our knowledge, not one critically sick or wounded person has yet been evacuated.”

Haley blamed Russia but she also said the U.N. failure to guarantee even a temporary truce was shameful.

“If we can’t act when children are dying, we have no business being here,” Haley said.

“If we can’t save families that haven’t seen the sun for weeks because they have been hiding underground to escape barrel bombs, then the Security Council is as impotent as its worst critics say it is,” Haley added.

Activists who monitor the fighting in Syria say pro-government forces have used the pretext of a cease-fire to make advances and have now taken about half of eastern Ghouta. An estimated 350,000 people are said to be trapped in Ghouta without adequate food or medical care.


© 2018 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.