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 international law.
“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 agree.”
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 mistake.”
– 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 Syria.”
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 session.
He called on the United States, France and Britain “not to bring the world to such a dangerous threshold.”
Russia has told 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 confrontation.
The warning from Moscow came as United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that increasing tensions over Syria could lead to “full-blown military escalation.”
Guterres urged the Security Council to “act responsibly in these dangerous circumstances.”
Christian university president quits after massive backlash over inviting Mike Pence
Vice President Mike Pence's role in toxic administrations caused such a backlash that a Christian university is now searching for a new president.
"Taylor University President Paul Lowell Haines has resigned from the nondenominational Christian university a month after hosting Vice President Mike Pence as commencement speaker," Religious News Service reported Monday.
Students and alumni had protested the invitation.
Student debt a ‘life sentence’ for millions of Americans
Haley Walters is five years away from earning her law degree. If everything goes according to plan, she will be under a mountain of $100,000 in student debt by the time she enters the work force.
Like millions of Americans, Walters is paying a steep price for an education that will likely weigh her down financially for much of her adult life.
"I think the student debt crisis is truly a life sentence," the 19-year-old Californian told AFP.
With 45 million borrowers owing some $1.6 trillion, the debt burden of American college graduates has exploded in recent years.
Florida library forced to cancel ‘Pride Prom’ after death threat sparks fear for teens’ safety
A Jacksonville, Florida library worked to hold a prom for LGBTQ teens who feel uncomfortable about going to their high school prom as they are or with the person they truly want to bring. That's why they started the Pride Prom. But after fears for the safety for the teens, the library had to cancel.
According to WOKV, the prom was supposed to be this Friday, with a Storybook theme where attendees were encouraged to dress up as their favorite storybook character. There would be music, dancing, a selfie station and more. All of that is over now, however.