UNITED NATIONS - US Ambassador Nikki
Haley told the UN Friday that no decision
had been taken about military action against
Syria, but use of force would be in response
to multiple chemical attacks carried out by
President Bashar al-Assad's forces.
Haley made clear that the US administration
was taking time to assess the full
implications of military strikes on Syria
after Russia warned that it could lead to a
dangerous US-Russian war.
Addressing the Security Council, Haley laid
out Washington's case for resorting to
force, challenging Russia's claim that
military action would be in violation of
"Our president has not yet made a decision
about possible action in Syria," Haley said.
"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
Citing US estimates that Assad has used
chemical weapons "at least 50 times" in the
seven-year war, Haley said: "All nations and
all people will be harmed if we allow Assad
to normalize the use of chemical weapons."
The United States is consulting with Britain
and France about a joint military response
to an alleged toxic gas attack in Douma that
medics and rescuers said left at least 40
people dead on Saturday.
Syria and Russia have denied using poisonous
gas in Douma on April 7, with Russian
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying that
Moscow had "irrefutable" evidence that the
attack in Douma was a "staged event."
Ahead of the meeting, Haley sounded a note
of caution, saying there should be no rush
to launch air strikes even though "at some
point you have to do something."
"You don't rush decisions like this," Haley
told reporters. "If you do, you make a
- Point of no-return -
Echoing the US stance, France's Ambassador
Francois Delattre said Assad's government
had reached a "point of no return" with
repeated use of chemical weapons.
"France will shoulder its responsibility to
end an intolerable threat to our collective
security," he added, before calling for an
end to the "chemical weapons escalation in
Russia's ambassador accused the West of
using allegations of chemical attacks as a
pretext to advance its sole aim in Syria of
overthrowing Assad and keep Moscow's
influence in check.
"The sole thing that they have an interest
in is to oust the Syrian government and to
deter, contain the Russian Federation,"
Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the council
He called on the United States, France and
Britain "not to bring the world to such a
Syria warned the Council that it will have
"no other choice" but to defend itself if
the West launches military action.
"This is not a threat. This is a promise,"
Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari said.
The ambassador invoked Article 51 of the UN
charter that recognizes the right to self-defence
by any state if it comes under attack.
If Britain, France and the United States
take military action, "we would have no
other choice expect applying Article 51 that
gives us the right to defend ourselves,"
Russia has also warned the United States
that it will not allow its troops on the
ground in Syria to be put at risk by
military action, even though the two
countries have contacts to avoid such direct
The warning from Moscow came as United
Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
warned that increasing tensions over Syria
could lead to "full-blown military
Guterres urged the Security Council to "act
responsibly in these dangerous