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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks to the Security Council on Wednesday. (Photo: Reuters)

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley Threatens Unilateral US Action in Syria

'When the U.N. 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'

Deirdre Fulton

Holding up photos of dead children as justification for potential war, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Wednesday that if the U.N. doesn't take action in Syria, "we may."

"When the U.N. 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," Haley told the U.N. Security Council at an emergency meeting called in response to Tuesday's suspected chemical attack in Syria's northern province of Idlib.

CNN described her remarks as "the most direct threat of unilateral action by the U.S. delegation at the U.N. to solve the Syria crisis."

Tom Newton Dunn, political editor for the U.K.'s Sun newspaper, said on Twitter that Haley's comments on U.N. inaction were reminiscent of those "that George W Bush's administration used at [the] U.N. in late 2002," to justify the invasion of Iraq. 

The threat came even as Haley herself acknowledged: "We don't yet know everything about yesterday's attack." The former governor of South Carolina also blamed Russia for having "shielded [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad from U.N. sanctions."

"We need to see them put an end to these horrific acts," she said. "How many more children have to die before Russia cares?"

The investigative outlet Airwars, which tracks international airstrikes in the Middle East, reports that a total of 701 children and 391 women are reported to be among those killed in confirmed and likely U.S. coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since August 2014.

Meanwhile, at the Pentagon on Wednesday, Defense Secretary James Mattis said Tuesday's chemical attack "was a heinous act and will be treated as such."

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