Nikki Haley to Russia on Future Gas Attacks in Syria: ‘The United States Is Locked and Loaded’

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    Nikki Haley, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, said Saturday at the second emergency meeting in as many days that the overnight strike against Syrian infrastructure was justified “to deter the use of chemical weapons.”

    Haley gave Russia a stern warning about the Syrian regime’s future use of chemical weapons, a warning she said came directly from President Donald Trump.

    “I spoke to the president this morning, and he said if the Syrian regime uses poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded,” Haley said.

    Saturday’s meeting, like the one that took place on Friday just hours ahead of the strike that took out a research facility, storage bunkers, and other infrastructure that supports Syria’s chemical weapons program, was requested by Russia.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin called the strike illegal and “an act of aggression on a sovereign state.”

    Russian diplomat Vassily Nebenzia was the first to speak at the meeting at the U.N.’s headquarters in New York City and deemed the strike “hooliganism.” He also called for attacks on Syria to cease.

    “The whole world is looking at you,” Nebenzia said. “Take a principled step.”

    But Haley did not back down from the claims she made on Friday and repeated on Saturday–that the evidence was clear that Bashar al-Assad’s regime was responsible for ongoing chemical weapons attacks, including the latest on April 7 that reportedly killed dozens of Syrian civilians.

    “The time for talking ended last night,” Haley said, noting that the strike, which was a joint effort of the U.S., France, and the U.K., was strictly done “to deter the future use of chemical weapons by holding the Syrian regime responsible for its atrocities against humanity.”

    Haley’s U.K. counterpart, Julian Braithwaite, said the strike was “limited, targeted, and successful”–and justified.

    “The Syrian regime and its supporters are responsible for the gravest violations of international humanitarian law in modern history,” Braithwaite said.

    Francois Delattre, the permanent representative of France to the U.N., said the evidence of Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own people was clear and that the United Nations’ mission should be to hold war criminals accountable.

    “The U.N. charter was not designed to protect criminals,” Delattre said.

    Haley said a Russian disinformation campaign was in “full force” but that efforts to change the subject would not succeed.

    “The pictures of dead children were not fake news,” Haley said.

    And she warned that Syria and its allies, which include Iran, should not be “foolish enough to test our will.”

    “With yesterday’s military action, our message was crystal clear,” Haley said. “The United States of America will not allow the Assad regime to continue to use chemical weapons.”

    International law banned chemical weapons in 1925.

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