Haley issues warning at the UN; U.K. says no plans for further missile strikes
Western powers have no plans for further missile strikes on Syria but will assess their options if Damascus uses chemical weapons again, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Sunday as debate raged over the legality and effectiveness of the raids.
U.S., French and British missile attacks struck at the heart of Syria’s chemical weapons programme on Saturday in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack a week ago, and the three countries insisted they were not aimed at toppling President Bashar al-Assad or intervening in a seven-year civil war.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, told an emergency Security Council meeting on Saturday that President Donald Trump told her that if Syria uses poisonous gas again, “The United States is locked and loaded.”
OPCW team in Syria
In Damascus, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad met inspectors from the global chemical weapons watchdog Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for about three hours in the presence of Russian officers and a senior Syrian security official.
The inspectors were due to try to visit the site of the suspected gas attack. Moscow condemned the Western states for refusing to wait for their findings before attacking.
British Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the legal basis used to support the British role was debatable, adding that he would only support action backed by the UN Security Council.
Russian Foreign Ministry official Vladimir Ermakov struck a apparently conciliatory tone on Sunday, saying Washington would want to maintain a dialogue with Moscow about strategic stability after the raids, Russian media reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that further Western attacks on Syria would bring chaos to world affairs. He made his remarks in a telephone conversation with Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani. A Kremlin statement said Putin and Rouhani agreed that the Western strikes had damaged the chances of achieving a political resolution in the multi-sided, seven-year conflict that has killed at least half a million people.