U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley testifies to the House Appropriations State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee on the budget for the U.N. in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 27, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTS18UEW

Washington warns Syria against conducting another chemical attack

The United States issued a warning to Syria over a possible chemical weapons attack, after spotting preparations by the Syrian military, which are similar to activities that it undertook before the deadly attack on the rebel-held Idlib province in April. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said, during a House of Representatives hearing, that the Trump administration intended its warning not just to the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad, but also to Russia and Iran.

“They have seen activities that are similar to preparations of a chemical weapons attack, much like what we saw on April 4th. And, I believe that the goal is, at this point, not just to send Assad a message but to send Russia and Iran a message that, if this happens again, we are putting you on notice. And my hope is that the President’s warning will certainly get Russia and Iran to take a second look. And, I hope that it will caution aside from the fact that we don’t want to see innocent men women and children hurt again,” said Haley 

Russia denounced the warning of the United States, dismissing the White House’ assertions that a strike was being prepared as “unacceptable.” Russia, which is President Bashar Assad’s main backer in Syria’s civil war and has used its veto power at the United Nations Security Council several times to shield the regime, also challenged the American intelligence on any imminent or even possible chemical weapons attack by Assad’s military.

British Defense Minister Michael Fallon declared that London would support US action to prevent a chemical weapons attack in Syria, yet noted that the intelligence on which Washington based its assertion has yet been provided to its allies; while stressing that military action on an imminent threat must be justified, proportionate and legal under international law.