US 'locked and loaded', ready to respond to further Syria chemical attacks

US 'locked and loaded', ready to respond to further Syria chemical attacks
Russia and the US have traded insults at an emergency UN Security Council meeting, after a series on airstrikes on Syrian chemical weapons facilities.
2 min read
14 April, 2018
US Ambassador Haley warned against further chemical attacks [AFP]

Russia and the US locked horns at the UN again on Saturday, in a meeting called by Moscow in response to a series of airstrikes launched by a Washington-led military alliance on Syria.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the emergency meeting that Washington was "locked and loaded", ready to launch further strikes on Syrian regime forces.

Three targets in Homs and Damascus were hit Saturday morning by US, UK and French missiles and jets. All the facilities were linked to Syria's chemical weapons programme, the allies said.

Although the US said the strikes were a one-off, Haley warned Russia, who support Bashar al-Assad regime, it was ready to launch further military action in Syria if necessary.

"I spoke to the president [Donald Trump] this morning and he said: If the Syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded," Haley said.

"When our president draws a red line, our president enforces the red line."

The UK, French and British military action follows a chemical massacre last Saturday in the Syrian opposition town of Douma, which left at least 40 civilians dead, including infants.

They have blamed the Syrian regime for the killings and said the airstrikes were to make a red line against further chemical attacks.

Haley warned Assad against any further chemical strikes in Syria would spark a bigger response.

"We are prepared to sustain this pressure, if the Syrian regime is foolish enough to test our will," she said.

UNSC member Britain said the strikes were essential to deterring Assad from launching further chemical attacks.

"The United Kingdom believes that it was both right and legal to take military action together with our closest allies to alleviate further humanitarian suffering," said Ambassador Karen Pierce ahead of the meeting.

Russia Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia described the attacks as an act of "aggression".

He demanded a vote later Saturday on a Moscow-drafted resolution condemning the "aggression" and demanding that the allies refrain from any further strikes.

Security Council members the US, UK and France are likely to use their vetoes to block the resolution.

Agencies contributed to this story.