Haley: US prepared to take further military action in Syria

Haley: US prepared to take further military action in Syria
© Greg Nash

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyHaley: 'Open question' if US athletes will attend Olympics amid North Korea tensions Haley: Trump isn't deciding who controls east Jerusalem Emergency UN Security Council meeting called after Trump's Jerusalem announcement: report MORE warned members of the Security Council on Friday that the U.S. is prepared to take further military action against Syria.

"The United States took a very measured step last night," Haley said. "We are prepared to do more, but we hope that will not be necessary."

Haley's warning came hours after the U.S. launched a missile strike on a Syrian military air base Thursday night. The strike was in retaliation for a chemical attack in northern Syria earlier this week that the U.S. has blamed on the administration of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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That attack left more than 70 dead, including many children. The U.S. military response was hailed by many world leaders, while Russia, a staunch Assad ally, condemned the attack as an act of "aggression."

Russia called the emergency Security Council meeting on Friday, where the country's U.N. representative Vladimir Safronkov blasted the Trump administration's attack and accused the U.S. of aiding terrorist groups in Syria. 

"It’s not difficult to imagine the spirits of these terrorists have been raised after the support from Washington," he said.

Safronkov appeared to rebuff calls from representatives on the Security Council who sought to focus discussions on finding a political solution to Syria's ongoing civil war, arguing the U.S. strike made the discussion “hypocritical.”

Bolivia’s representative Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz also criticized the United States' unilateral missile strike, contending that the country violated international law by firing on a sovereign country.

Bolivia joined Russia in calling for a meeting of the 15-member council after the attacks, reportedly requesting that they convene behind closed-doors.

Haley categorically rejected that request ahead of the meeting, saying, “Any country that chooses to defend the atrocities of the Syrian regime will have to do so in full public view, for all the world to hear.”

The Bolivian representative disputed Haley’s claim that his country had asked for a closed-door meeting, saying he welcomed the “transparency.”

Haley delivered a fierce defense of the U.S. missile strike, which was backed by several members of the council, including the United Kingdom and France, who called it a proportional response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons.

Haley said Assad could no longer be permitted to act with impunity, while blasting Russia for assisting his regime.

“Assad did this because he thought he could get away with it,” she said. “He thought he could get away with it because he thought Russia had his back. That changed last night.”

The duel between Haley and Safronkov was their second this week, following an emergency Security Council meeting on Wednesday in the wake of the chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib Province.

In that meeting, Russia sought to place blame for the chemical attacks on terrorist and insurgent groups in Syria, while Haley accused Russia of failing to use its influence over the Assad regime to end the country’ ongoing war.

Updated: 2:14 p.m.