Moscow backs Syria over chemical attack claims

Cheryl Sanders
April 6, 2017

He blamed the attack squarely on Assad's forces, though the embattled Syrian leader and his Russian backers denied it. He suggested that the assault that killed 72 people had diminished his former reluctance to plunge the US further into the complex and unsafe turmoil in the Middle East.

President Donald Trump and Jordan's King Abdullah II speak during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 5, 2017. USA officials said the gas was likely chlorine, with traces of a nerve agent like sarin. The president declined to say what the USA would do in response, but he did say that his "attitude towards Syria and Assad has changed very much".

"I will quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS, will rebuild our military and make it so strong no-one - and I mean, no one - will mess with us", he said in a radio ad during the campaign.

Trump said the "heinous actions by the Assad regime" can not be tolerated.

"I'm not saying I'm doing anything one way or another, but I'm certainly not going to be telling you", Trump said.

A flurry of activity across the US government signaled fresh urgency on the Syria crisis. After all, Trump's first reaction to the attack was to blame Obama's "weakness" in earlier years for enabling Assad.

Obama allowed Assad to cross the "red line" he'd drawn around the use of chemical weapons in the first place, then subcontracted the enforcement of his "red line" to Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, and then counselled doing nothing while Assad, by merely switching from sarin to chlorine - as United Nations inspectors later confirmed - repeatedly broke his promise to the United Nations that he would not use poison gas again.

For Trump's critics, though, it wasn't enough. Sen.

"Behind these figures lies a gradual draining of hope and a turn toward despair that we must reverse", Guterres said. "That responsibility could be made a lot easier if it was handled years ago".

"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 own action", said Haley.

Though Trump didn't mention it, both Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have argued that Russian Federation and Iran - Assad's two staunchest allies - must use their influence to prevent him from mounting further attacks.

The strongest indication that the US might act came at the United Nations, where U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley held up photos of the attack's victims in an emotional plea to the Security Council to intervene.

That is what our ceremonies of global diplomacy and peace talks and ceasefires have offered the Syrian people: barrel bombs and ceaseless death, the deliberate targeting of hospitals, and heaps of convulsing children foaming at the mouth and dying of asphyxiation in towns like Khan Sheikhoun. "We see all the signs of an attack using a nerve agent capable of killing over a hundred people and harming hundreds more". Russian and coalition aircraft were not there at that time, said the official, who wasn't authorized to discuss intelligence publicly and requested anonymity. Both count as chemical weapons, which are illegal.

By contrast, nerve agents such as sarin work by disrupting the nervous system's communications with muscles throughout the body.

Yet other countries, including Britain and defense officials in Israel, joined the alleging Assad's forces were to blame. The short resolution condemns the attack, calls for those responsible to be held accountable and reminds Syria of its obligations to refrain from using chemical weapons. He said the strikes did not cause any casualties because the area had been evacuated following Tuesday's attack.

Casey and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of NY say Trump is being undermined by the cloud of an ongoing investigation into possible Russian interference in the election.

Other reports by iNewsToday