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After Trump, Russia blames Obama 'Red Line' for Syria chemical attack at UN Security Council meeting

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said, "How many more children have to die before Russia cares?" Photograph: (Reuters)

New York, NY, United States Apr 05, 2017, 05.07 PM (IST)

Russia said former US President Barack Obama's threat of military action if a "red line" was crossed and chemical weapons were used in Syria had provoked such attacks.

"That decision served as a starting point for future provocations by terrorists and extremist structures with the use of chemical weapons, they sought to discredit the official Damascus regime and to create a pretext for the use of military force against a sovereign state," Deputy Russian UN Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov told the UN Security Council.

Trump's initial response released by the White House said, "Today’s chemical attack in Syria against innocent people, including women and children, is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilised world."

"These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution," Trump said. 

"President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a 'red line' against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing. The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable attack."

Speaking just after the Russian ambassador, US Ambassador Nikki Haley lashed out at Russia for failing to rein in its ally Syria after a suspected chemical attack left scores dead including children.

"How many more children have to die before Russia cares?" Haley told an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council called to discuss the attack on a rebel-held town in Idlib province.

"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," US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the Security Council meeting on Syria. Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump described the 'chemical attack' in Syria as "horrible" and "unspeakable" and called it a "terrible affront to humanity."

Ahead of the emergency UN session, Russia's foreign ministry said: "the text as presented is categorically unacceptable." Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow considered the resolution "anti-Syrian," adding it "pre-empts the results of an investigation and just immediately designates the guilty."

Moscow, which launched a military intervention in 2015 in support of Assad's forces, earlier defended Damascus against accusations of responsibility for the attack.

The emergency council meeting was called by France and Britain following the attack that killed at least 72 people, including 20 children, the worst in Syria since a 2013 sarin gas attack. 

Britain, France and the United States have presented a draft resolution demanding a full investigation of the attack, but Russia said the text was "categorically unacceptable."

The draft resolution calls for a full investigation by the Organisation of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) of the attack in the early hours of Tuesday in Khan Sheikhun.

Russia's Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov told the council that the proposed resolution was hastily prepared and unnecessary, but voiced support for an inquiry.

(WION with Agency inputs: Reuters, AFP)

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