Trump Denounces 'Horrific' Syria Chemical Attack As U.S. Hints At Unilateral Action
RFE/RL April 05, 2017
U.S. President Donald Trump has described a reported chemical attack in the Syrian province of Idlib that left more than 70 people dead and dozens injured as "an affront to humanity."
Speaking at a press conference in Washington with Jordan's King Abdullah, Trump added that the "horrific" incident cannot be tolerated and that it "crossed a lot of lines." He added that his view of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had "changed very much."
Asked whether he was changing his policy on Syria, Trump merely answered, "You'll see."
His comments came shortly before the United Nations Security Council adjourned an emergency session on the topic without voting on a resolution.
The United States and other Western countries accuse the Assad government of carrying out a chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun. Syria, and its ally Russia, have said Syrian warplanes bombed a factory where chemical weapons were stored.
U.S. intelligence officials have prepared an assessment that concludes the deaths and injuries were most likely caused by sarin nerve agent dropped by Syrian warplanes. An unidentified U.S. State Department official told Reuters that "Russia offers a set of false facts" in its assertion about the chemical-weapons storage facility.
At the Security Council session, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley criticized Russia and China for vetoing similar resolutions in the past.
"When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our action," she said.
She called on Moscow to use its influence to compel Syria to "put an end to these horrific acts."
Earlier on April 5, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the draft Security Council resolution prepared by the United States, Britain, and France was "categorically unacceptable."
Speaking at the UN Security Council, Russian Deputy UN envoy Vladimir Safronkov called for "an objective inquiry" into what happened.
Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, who is among the president's closest advisers, posted on Twitter that she was "heartbroken and outraged by the images coming out of Syria following the atrocious chemical attack yesterday."
With reporting by AP, Reuters, and CNN
Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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