Tue, Apr 17, 2018 - Page 7 News List

US to hit Russia with new sanctions for aiding Syria

CHEST-THUMPING:French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview that he had convinced US President Donald Trump not to withdraw from Syria two weeks ago

AP, WASHINGTON

An internally displaced man from eastern Ghouta on Sunday rides in a wheelchair at the Herjelleh shelter in the countryside surrounding Damascus, Syria.

Photo: Reuters

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said that new economic sanctions would yesterday be announced against Russia for enabling the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to continue using chemical weapons.

Russia has blocked six attempts by the UN Security Council to make it easier to investigate the use of chemical weapons, Haley said.

“Everyone is going to feel it at this point,” she said in an interview aired on Sunday, warning of consequences for al-Assad’s foreign allies.

“The international community will not allow chemical weapons to come back into our everyday life,” she said. “The fact he was making this more normal and that Russia was covering this up, all that has got to stop.”

US President Donald Trump on Sunday said that a US-led missile attack on Syria’s chemical weapons program was “perfectly carried out.”

Trump on Saturday tweeted “Mission Accomplished” after US, French and British warplanes and ships launched more than 100 missiles nearly unopposed by Syrian air defenses.

While Trump declared success, the US Department of Defense said that the pummeling of three chemical-related facilities left enough others intact to enable the al-Assad government to use banned weapons against civilians if it chooses.

His choice of words recalled a similar claim associated with former US president George W. Bush following the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Later on Sunday, Trump sent a letter to congressional leaders informing them in writing of his decision to order the strike. Under the US War Powers Resolution, the president must keep the US Congress informed of such actions.

Haley said that the US would not be pulling troops out of Syria immediately, saying that US involvement there “is not done.”

The US’ three goals for accomplishing its mission are making sure chemical weapons are not used in a way that could harm US national interests, defeating the Islamic State group and having a good vantage point to watch what Iran is doing, she said.

“We’re not going to leave until we know we’ve accomplished those things,” she said.

The joint military strike “put a heavy blow into their chemical weapons program, setting them back years,” Haley said, adding that if al-Assad uses poison gas again, “the United States is locked and loaded.”

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday said that France wants to launch a diplomatic initiative over Syria that would include Western powers, Russia and Turkey.

Speaking on French television BFM and Web site Mediapart, Macron stressed that the French diplomacy is able to talk with Iran, Russia and Turkey on one side and to the US on the other side.

“Ten days ago, President Trump wanted to withdraw from Syria. We convinced him to remain,” Macron said.

Asked about Macron’s comments, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders stressed that Trump’s plans for the region have not changed.

“The US mission has not changed — the President has been clear that he wants US forces to come home as quickly as possible.” Huckabee Sanders said.

The nighttime assault on Syria was carefully limited to minimize civilian casualties and avoid direct conflict with Russia, but confusion arose over the extent to which Washington warned Moscow in advance.

The Pentagon said it gave no explicit warning.

However, US ambassador to Russia John Huntsman in a video said that “before we took action, the United States communicated with” Russia to “reduce the danger of any Russian or civilian casualties.”

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