Washington- US President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the chemical attack on the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province “crossed a lot of lines” and that his “attitude” toward Bashar Assad has changed.
Trump’s comments put him on a collision course with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“When you kill innocent children, innocent babies with a chemical gas that is so lethal…that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line,” Trump said during a joint press conference with King Abdullah II of Jordan.
“I will tell you, it’s already happened that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much,” the US President said.
Reuters reported that the new incident means Trump is faced with same dilemma that faced his predecessor: whether to openly challenge Moscow and risk deep involvement in a Middle East war by seeking to punish Assad for using banned weapons, or compromise and accept the head of the Syrian regime remaining in power at the risk of looking weak.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council failed during its extraordinary meeting held on Wednesday to pass a resolution that had been drafted by Britain, France and the US after the Western trio held off the vote.
The draft condemned the chemical attack in Syria and demanded a full investigation under Article 7 of the UN Charter.
Russia said the Western-proposed draft resolution was “unacceptable.”
“We do not believe it is expedient to pass a resolution on the chemical weapons attack in its present form,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
Several UN member states criticized Moscow’s decision not to support the draft resolution. Russia justified the attack in Khan Sheikhoun by saying Syrian warplanes hit a warehouse where rebels had stored chemical weapons.
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley hinted during the Security Council meeting that Washington might be compelled to act individually if the UN fails to take collective action after the deadly toxic gas attack.
“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,” said Haley.
The gas attack killed at least 72 people, including many children.